Michelisz not giving up on WTCR title dream
Norbert Michelisz starts his second ‘home’ round of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 47 points behind title leader Yvan Muller and without a win in 2018. But the BRC Racing Team Hyundai driver, who comes from neighbouring Hungary, believes he still has a chance to become champion as he prepares for this weekend’s WTCR Race of Slovakia.
How would you summarise the first half of the WTCR OSCARO season?
“Overall it’s positive. If you look at how close the championship is, it’s something really exciting as a driver. Of course there are some good moments, some bad moments but in the end the important thing is to have all the possibilities for the second half of the season to fight for the first position. As long as I have this feeling of having the chance to become champion, I can summarise it as a positive first half.”
So you really still have that feeling?“Yeah of course. If I look back, the points gap I have to the first place I can analyse where it comes from and, if I have slightly less bad luck, we can be there because the speed and the competitiveness has been there as well and I have confidence in myself and also in the [Hyundai] i30 N and the BRC Racing Team.”
You have experience of fighting back into title contention from last year’s WTCC. Can that help you?“Always in the last three or four years the first half of the season wasn’t coming my way. Then in the second part everything just came together. So, somehow, I expect it to happen this year in the same way. Maybe because the experience I had from last year when, in mid-season, I said I am done with the championship and two or three race weekends after I was almost leading the championship. This year it’s even more close but the only thing you need to do is to be clever.”
Are you feeling the pressure not having won when your team-mate and the two other Hyundai drivers have?“If I look back to Marrakech, the first qualifying of the season I was on the way to score the pole and the engine broke. In Hungary I was twice on pole but the starts were not ideal. Then there was Vila Real and if I had been less unlucky with the roll cage being bent there would have been a good possibility to score points in Race 1.”
It probably doesn’t mean much but you’ve now led a lap after Vila Real…“It was an interesting experience to be the only one escaping [the multi-car accident], but, of course I was worried about the others because I saw in the mirror all the damage. But I said to myself if the race is going to be restarted then the car feels okay.”
While the car was fixed for Races 2 and 3 your right hand was pretty painful?“I have a 99 per cent feeling with my right hand. There is just one small piece of bone where a part is missing. The only thing I am not able to do is lift heavy things or do push-ups. But I don’t think it’s affecting my driving and Vila Real is one of the worst places because of the big kerbs, [while] Slovakia Ring is smooth asphalt and I have a support [for my hand].”
And do you know why it’s your right hand that got injured when the impact was on the left-side of the car?“I knew there was going to be an impact and I just grabbed the [steering] wheel really hard to control the car. But the problem was Thed [Björk] pushed me from the back and I grabbed [the wheel] even harder to correct and, at the same time, Rob [Huff] hit my car on the side and also my front wheel.”