Norbert Michelisz underlined his status as a national hero by winning the second MOL Group WTCC Race of Hungary today to claim Honda’s maiden victory in the 2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship and end Citroën’s dominant start to the season.
Driving the revamped Civic WTCC for the first time, Michelisz capitalised on his pole position in the reverse-grid race two for an emotional win in front of 35,000 fans. The Zengo Motorsport driver’s success followed world champion José María López’s third triumph of 2015 for Citroën in the opening contest, which ensures the Argentine remains the driver to catch in the title chase heading to rounds seven and eight on the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife later this month.
Yvan Muller and Hugo Valente completed the race one podium with Tom Coronel and Tom Chilton second and third respectively in race two in their Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1s. Valente and Michelisz were the two Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy winners. However, it was a case of mixed fortunes for LADA Sport Rosneft with Rob Huff’s ninth in the opening race the highlight.
RACE ONE ROUND-UP: LÓPEZ MAKES IT A WTCC HAT-TRICK
Starting from third on the grid, José María López blasted into the lead on the charge to the first corner and maintained his advantage out front to the flag, beating Citroën team-mate Yvan Muller to top spot. Hugo Valente, who started second to pole-sitter Muller, scored his second WTCC podium with a fine drive to third for Campos Racing, having been unable to fend off the fast-starting López. Muller, meanwhile, blamed a sluggish getaway for his failure to hold the lead and continue his tally of Hungaroring wins, which had dated back to 2011. Ma Qing Hua took fourth after he withstood intense pressure from Tiago Monteiro, who was the first of the Honda Civic WTCC drivers home in fifth. Sébastien Loeb completed the top six having lost time when he was eased wide exiting the first corner, the contact affecting the handling of his Citroën. Tom Chilton finished seventh, home hero Norbert Michelisz was eighth, Rob Huff took ninth for LADA with Tom Coronel completing the top 10 to land his first drivers’ points of 2015.
RACE TWO ROUND-UP: HOME CROWD ROARS MICHELISZ TO VICTORY
Norbert Michelisz’s fourth win in the WTCC was perhaps his most momentous yet after he converted pole position into a dominant victory on home soil, with the local fans cheering his every move. The Hungarian never put a wheel wrong as he cruised to first place in Honda’s upgraded Civic WTCC. Tom Coronel and Tom Chilton were second and third respectively in their ROAL Motorsport Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1s with Tiago Monteiro fourth for the Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team. Sébastien Loeb made it through a second corner collision unscathed to finish fifth as the leading Citroën. Team-mate and WTCC leader José María López was sixth in the reverse grid counter. Rob Huff was not so fortunate however, retiring his LADA with accident damage at the end of lap one. Hugo Valente took eighth behind Muller with Ma Qing Hua and Grégoire Demoustier ninth and 10th. John Filippi finished 11th, Stefano D’Aste 12th with Gabriele Tarquini setting the fastest lap after he battle back into contention following a tough start when he headed to the grass leaving the grid. Like Huff, Mikhail Kozlovskiy and Mehdi Bennani also posted retirements.
YOKOHAMA DRIVERS’ TROPHY: VALENTE STRIKES FOR FIRST WIN
Norbert Michelisz’s race two success hands him a four-point advantage over Tom Chilton. But a frustrating weekend for Mehdi Bennani means the Moroccan has lost ground in the title chase for independent racers. Hugo Valente’s victory in race one was his first of 2015 before Michelisz headed Tom Coronel and Chilton for an all-Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy overall podium. Stefano D’Aste, Grégoire Demoustier and John Filippi all scored points.
RACE WINNER QUOTES (view the full transcript at media.fiawtcc.com)
José María López: “My first win here in front of this crowd is very special. I knew the start would be important. I wanted to pass Hugo because I knew it was important for the championship but, to be honest, it was not the plan to pass Yvan like this. It was a very nice fight and as a four-time champion he’s the driver I try to copy.”
Norbert Michelisz: “What a lucky man I am to have a race victory in front of these people is just amazing. I remember very much 2012 when I won for the first time and I thought I couldn’t hope for anything better. Thanks to everyone involved for making this fantastic car – everything went as planned in the second race. I was pushing hard to be focused. I didn’t look a lot in the mirror, I didn’t look at the pit board how many laps were left but with two laps left I realised I was close to finishing. I was very excited after that.”