He’s the King of WTCR following his dramatic triumph in the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup title-deciding Sepang super-finale in Malaysia last December. This Sunday (21 June) Norbert Michelisz will be aiming to rule in virtual racing.
Hungarian hero Michelisz is the original-gamer-turned-racer after starting out on the road to FIA World Touring Car stardom by earning a test at the Hungaroring in 2005 having starred online.
Following a podium in the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship opener at Salzburgring last weekend (14 June), Michelisz is third in the points and keen on an even better return at his ‘home’ track with Eurosport and other channels around the world broadcasting the action from 22h30 CET.
“I’m excited,” said Michelisz, who will defend his WTCR title in 2020 in a BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR. “I have just moved house, so I won’t have a lot of time to prepare, which was more or less the case for Salzburgring. But for Hungaroring it won’t be a big problem. I probably did most of my gaming laps on the Hungaroring so I expect a slightly better result than at the Salzburgring, although there I managed a podium. But I would really like to win my home race.”
RaceRoom keeps it real for Esports WTCR
The Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship uses the RaceRoom Racing Experience platform and Michelisz has been quick to point out the similarities between the real and virtual 4.381-kilometre Hungaroring, where compatriots Bence Boldizs (Zengő Motorsport) and Attila Tassi (ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport) will also be in action.
“I have to say the guys from RaceRoom did a very good job with the circuit,” said Michelisz. “Except for one or two kerbs it’s 100 per cent realistic. If you learn to do a fast lap on the virtual Hungaroring you probably have the clue how to approach a real racing weekend. I’ve said this many times, but 95 per cent at the Hungaroring is better than 101 per cent because it’s a circuit where if you over-drive, then you lose a lot of lap time, especially in sector two.”
Get ready for Turn 5 action
If he’s not at the head of the Pre-season Esports WTCR pack at the Hungaroring on Sunday then Michelisz will look to Turn 5 for overtaking opportunities. He explained: “Online you can push the limits a bit more. I don’t want to say bumping the people in front, but you have a bit of a margin to make yourself the space you need for an overtake. Turn 4 and Turn 5 is a good possibility to either have a run outside of Turn 4 and then to dive up the inside entering Turn 5. But in case the driver in front defends you have a very good chance on the exit of Turn 5 to have the inside for the chicane and to finish the overtake there.”
SALZBURGRING RESULTS RECAP
1 Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina) ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
2 Mato Homola (Slovakia) BRC Racing Team Hyundai i30 N TCR
3 Norbert Michelisz (Hungary) BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse Hyundai i30 N TCR
DHL Position: Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
Fastest lap: Yann Ehrlacher (France) Cyan Racing Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR
1 Attila Tassi (Hungary) ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR
2 Mikel Azcona (Spain) CUPRA Racing CUPRA Leon Competición
3 Niels Langeveld (Netherlands) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS
DHL Pole Position: Thed Björk (Sweden) Cyan Performance Lynk & Co Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Fastest lap: Niels Langeveld (Netherlands) Comtoyou Team Audi Sport Audi RS 3 LMS
PROVISIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER ROUND 2 OF 12:
1 Esteban Guerrieri, 36 points
2 Mato Homola, 31
3 Norbert Michelisz, 29
4 Yann Ehrlacher, 28
5 Attila Tassi, 25
6 Mikel Azcona, 25
7 Bence Boldizs, 20
8 Néstor Girolami, 19
9 Niels Langeveld, 16
10 Kevin Ceccon, 11
What is Pre-season Esports WTCR?
Held over six weekends until 19 July on the RaceRoom Racing Experience platform, the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship is exclusively for drivers from the WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup and gives fans the chance to watch virtual WTCR racing with a difference.
All drivers taking part will have a webcam and microphone connected, making it possible for viewers to see and hear their heroes during the races. The microphone feature will also allow drivers to be interviewed as well as interacting with their rivals. Videos of drivers on their simulators, at home and enjoying some fun moments will also be shared during the one-hour shows.
New-for-2020-liveries will be used with six epic tracks, including three that will feature in the real WTCR − FIA World Touring Car Cup, providing the challenge. And with the real WTCR set to visit the Hungaroring in October, the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship will provide a virtual taster of what’s to come in a few months from now.
Who’s on the virtual grid?
The following drivers are entered for the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship:
#1: Norbert Michelisz (Hungary), BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Squadra Corse, Hyundai i30 N TCR
#7: Aurélien Comte (France), DG Sport Compétition, Peugeot 308TCR
#8: Luca Engstler (Germany), Engstler Hyundai N Liqui Moly Racing Team, Hyundai i30 N TCR
#9: Attila Tassi (Hungary), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#10: Niels Langeveld (Netherlands), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
#11: Thed Björk (Sweden), Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#18: Tiago Monteiro (Portugal), ALL-INKL.DE Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#29: Néstor Girolami (Argentina), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#31: Tom Coronel (Netherlands), Comtoyou Team Audi Sport, Audi RS 3 LMS
#55: Bence Boldizs (Hungary), Zengő Motorsport, CUPRA Leon Competición
#65: Kevin Ceccon (Italy), Team Mulsanne, Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR by Romeo Ferraris
#68: Yann Ehrlacher (France), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#70: Mato Homola (Slovakia), BRC Racing Team, Hyundai i30 N TCR
#86: Esteban Guerrieri (Argentina), ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R TCR
#96: Mikel Azcona (Spain), CUPRA Racing, CUPRA Leon Competición
#100: Yvan Muller (France), Cyan Racing Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
#111: Andy Priaulx (Great Britain), Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, Lynk & Co 03 TCR
Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship format explained
Each Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship event will feature a 10-minute qualifying session followed by a top-five Superpole shootout, which will be included in the official broadcast.
Race 1 will last for 12 minutes with the grid using the combined qualifying results. Race 2 will also last for 12 minutes but with the top 10 qualifying results reversed to form the first five rows of the grid. Cars will appear as they will look when the WTCR begins, as planned, for real later this year.
What will you watch?
The Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship programmes will benefit from the same in-house production expertise as the real-life WTCR broadcasts in partnership with technical provider AMP Visual. The work of a 30-person team, the shows will have the same ‘look and feel’ as the WTCR broadcasts with identical on-screen graphics and expert commentary on the global feed from the voice of WTCR Martin Haven. WTCR pitlane reporter Alexandra Legouix will present the action and interview the drivers while they race at home. Esports WTCR commentator James Kirk joins the team to provide an expert view on simracing.
How to watch?
Eurosport 1 will broadcast all Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship events with the Hungaroring round scheduled for 22h30 CET on Sunday 21 June. The programmes will be available on the WTCR’s social media channels from 09h00 CET the next day.
In addition to coverage on Eurosport in 54 countries, Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship events will be shown on the following channels with more to be announced:
Bein Sport (MENA region)
RTBF Auvio (Belgium)
SKY TV (New Zealand)
StarTimes (sub-Saharan Africa)
SuperSport (South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa)
Three (New Zealand)
Making it happen for the fans
Organised to give WTCR drivers the chance to engage with fans through the WTCR’s social media platforms while they wait the start of the 2020 campaign and a prelude to the full Esports WTCR online championship due to begin later this year, the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship from RaceRoom in partnership with Eurosport Events lists Goodyear, TAG Heuer, DHL, KW Suspensions, TrackTime and Liqui Moly as partners with a TAG Heuer watch going to the champion. The series will promote the FIA’s #RaceAtHome campaign.
Following the Hungarornig event on 21 June the remaining Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship calendar looks like this:
28 June: Slovakia Ring (Eurosport broadcast time: 22h00 CET
5 July: Ningbo International Speedpark (Eurosport broadcast time: 23h00 CET)
12 July: Circuito da Guia, Macau (Eurosport broadcast time: 23h00 CET)
19 July: Sepang International Circuit (Eurosport broadcast time: 23h00 CET)
More than a game: Click here to view the Pre-season Esports WTCR Championship announcement.