Touring CarsWTCC

Michelisz Ends Rookie Season With Maiden Victory

3 Mins read

Norbert Michelisz completed an excellent rookie season in the World Touring Car Championship by taking his first victory in the season finale at Macau.

Reverse grid polesitter Kristian Poulsen made a good getaway from the standing start while fellow front row starter Alain Menu stalled. SEAT pairing Michelisz and Gabriele Tarquini also made good starts from fourth and fifth on the grid to get past third-place starter Augusto Farfus off the line, before the pair stormed past leader Poulsen on the run to the high-speed Mandarin right-hander. Farfus then passed the Danish independent before they got to Lisboa for the first time. Meanwhile Yvan Muller and race one winner Rob Huff moved up into fifth and sixth past Tiago Monteiro.

Behind the leaders the track became blocked at Police, bringing out the red flags, with Andrei Romanov, who was 14th, in the wall along with Darryl O'Young and Nobuteru Taniguchi. Fredy Barth and Yukinori Taniguchi also sustained heavy damage in the pileup and retired. All of the cars behind were able to rejoin the main pack once the obstructing cars were removed.

Once the track was cleared the race got back underway with a safety car restart. As Michelisz led Tarquini and Farfus away, Muller and Huff got past Poulsen, before Muller allowed Huff past a few corners later. This released Huff to go and chase down Farfus, the pair making contact which resulted in the Brazilian's rear bumper hanging off. Huff soon found a way through and began to close up on Tarquini, who had been unable to challenge leader Michelisz. Muller also eventually passed Farfus on lap 9.

Huff closed right up behind Tarquini on the final lap, but was unable to find a way through, as Michelisz held on out front to claim his maiden WTCC win, which was also the first win for a SEAT in Macau. The Hungarian Zengo Dension driver had earlier won the Rookie Challenge title.

“My goal this year was to get on the podium and to win the Rookie Challenge,” said Michelisz. “I am really happy to get on the podium with a win and I couldn't have chosen a better place to do it. I want to thank every member of the team as they've done a fantastic job. In Race 2 when I saw the red flag it was strange as I was quite calm waiting on the grid. I knew I had the pace to stay in front and I am really happy that that is what happened.”

With Tarquini finishing the race in second and Huff third the Italian ended up second in the overall standings just ahead of the Brit, tied on points but with two more wins.

Tarquini said: “It is hard to be motivated to race for second place after being champion last year. But this was really my target. Congratulations to Chevrolet as they have done a fantastic job this season and it's been difficult to beat them.”

Huff said: “We did exactly what we needed to do in Race 1 first getting pole and then I just had to get my head down, which helped having my teammates around me. I think the same thing happened in 2008 when Muller was champion and me and Tarquini were tied on points. It has been a great battle all year and what a way to finish.”

Champion Muller finished in fourth. After the race he said: “To get on the podium 14 out of 22 races is one of the keys to becoming champion but there are many things you need. All the team have helped and it's been a great effort from all three drivers, our engineers and mechanics.”

Farfus finished in fifth, ahead of Tom Coronel. Andy Priaulx finished seventh having started towards the back of the grid following his race one collision with Andre Couto.

Monteiro finshed up back in eighth, ahead of Sergio Hernandez, who passed Franz Engstler for ninth and the Independents' victory, sealing his second Independents' Trophy title. Poulsen dropped out of contention when he crashed out on lap four.

Hernandez said: “This season has been for Proteam and they have done a really good job with limited budget so I want to thank them. I maintained my position in Race 1 but I was worried about Race 2. When I saw Poulsen was out though I just pushed to win the race from Engstler.”

Fellow Independent BMW drivers Masaki Kano and Cesar Campanico ended their races in the tyre walls at Fishermen's and Lisboa respectively, though both cars were recovered without the need for a safety car. Having retired from race one with transmission problems, Colin Turkington had to serve a drive-through penalty after the restart because his team were still working on the car after the three-minute board on the grid.

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Peter joined the TCF team in September 2010 and covers GP2 and GP3 along with WTCC and Formula Two. You can find him on twitter at @PeteAllen_
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