Norbert Michelisz can’t wait for WTCR Race of Hungary this week because of the “close, action-packed racing” served up at the Hungaroring each season.
The WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup is making its fifth visit to Michelisz’s home track from June 11-12 when the 37-year-old home hero will be in action in a Hyundai Elantra N TCR run by the BRC Racing Team from Italy.
Although Michelisz, the 2019 King of WTCR, was a winner at the Hungaroring in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, victory on home soil in the WTCR has so far eluded him. He’s hoping to put that right this year, albeit wary of the strong opposition he’ll face from a host of talented drivers.
How excited are you to be racing at the Hungaroring in the WTCR?
“It’s always special to race in front of the Hungarian fans, it’s a very special atmosphere and very special memories connect me to this circuit. It’s where my career started, it’s where I enjoyed some of the most beautiful memories in my professional career. It’s an event I always enjoy a lot and I expect a lot of people to come to watch.”
Do you agree you know the Hungaroring better than all your WTCR rivals, including your fellow Hungarian racers Dániel Nagy and Attila Tassi?
“I am not sure. To be honest I drove probably more than the others until I joined the WTCC. But I really don’t do more laps than the other drivers now. It’s basically one race per season and that’s it so I’m not sure I have more experience than the others. But I understand the rhythm and I understand the nature of the circuit quite well so I think I’m better than average.”
There’s rarely a dull moment at the Hungaroring, why do you think this is?
“Every year you have many things happening on the track. You have very tight action after the start, with side-by-side driving through Turns 1, 2, 3 and 4. You have a lot of overtaking possibilities there and even if it’s not always possible to overtake, it’s not always about just overtaking at the Hungaroring. The circuit is perfect for close racing and it always provides close, action-packed racing. For me this is the reason why the Hungaroring is always exciting and it’s always a good place to go and watch.”
It’s always a busy and intense weekend for you, particularly now you switching between your commitments in the WTCR and FIA ETCR eWorld Touring Car Cup. Can you still enjoy yourself?
“I always enjoy. I remember in the beginning it was not easy because it was the extra pressure and you suddenly realise that many people are cheering for you, expecting results from you. I remember in 2011, 2012 and 2013 I enjoyed a lot but it was not the easiest place for me. By now I understand how to take advantage of these extra pressures. It’s always very tough during the race weekend because there is a lot of commitment, especially this year because I have shared duties between WTCR and ETCR so it will be very tough in terms of managing my spare time. Then there is the extra attention for this and that will make it one of the toughest race weekends of my career. But in the end the atmosphere is always exciting and it’s always something that makes it very special.”
Unfortunately, you will start the Hungaroring weekend with the grid penalty from Pau hanging over you. How will that affect your chances?
“It’s really something I would want to avoid but, in the end, I don’t know how much it will affect my race weekend. I am sure Race 1 will be very tricky because of this but many things can happen. It’s unfortunate and I am really sad but I will still try to do my best. I hope to take a home win but many things will need to come together.”