Honda’s Tiago Monteiro believes the Citroen cars will remain the benchmark in the 2017 WTCC season despite the manufacturer pulling its works team from the championship.
Citroen's third consecutive title is looking all but assured this year, but its exit in 2017 is expected to leave Honda as the clear favourite.
“On paper, we, as Honda, should be the strongest option to fight for the championship next year,” Monteiro told Motorsport.com.
“Of course, let’s say if we stay as we are, it will be a big fight internally, and I'm sure Volvo and Lada will be there."
Monteiro, however, reckons the slower development rate in the championship will mean the Citroen C-Elysee cars will remain regular contenders in the hands of independent teams.
"We can't forget that the Citroen will be here. Because the car is so advanced that they will be strong.
"It depends on who will drive, but if they have good drivers they will be fighting with us for sure.
“If you remember when Chevrolet stopped, Yvan Muller stayed with the privateer team and he won the championship.
“When you have a car that is so strong, the following years in WTCC, there are evolutions, but it is not the kind of evolution like in Formula 1, where you can make big steps.
“The steps we always do are smaller because the development is slower. So, in one year it's difficult to cover so much, so I think that Citroen next year will still be the strongest car, it will only depend on who drives.”