The World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) embarks on the first leg of its European rounds this weekend, with the drivers set to do battle around the Hungaroring in Budapest. After a mixed bag of results in Marrakech, Hyundai’s customer teams will be aiming for progress.
Norbert Michelisz is a sporting hero in Hungary, and the masses of fans that attend this event every year certainly make that known. There is arguably no better atmosphere on the WTCR calendar than the one created in Budapest when ‘Norbi’ is in town. Naturally, the Hungarian will want to add to his list of race victories on home turf, but he’ll need to improve on his last outing to do so.
At the season opener on the tight streets of Morocco, Michelisz found himself firmly stuck in the midfield. With overtaking being incredibly difficult at the Circuit Moulay el-Hassen, he could do no better than eighth place in Race Three.
That said, the Hungaroring has brought him success before, so Michelisz will undoubtedly be aiming to kick-start his 2019 title challenge. Ahead of the event, Michelisz said: “Hungary is the most special time in the year for me. It’s always incredible to race in front of the home fans. I’m hoping for a good result, I think we have the right package and we were strong at this event last year. I hope to see lots of support for us this weekend!”
Reigning WTCR champion, Gabriele Tarquini, enjoyed the best set of results from Morocco of all the Hyundai drivers that took part. The veteran Italian scored two top five finishes, plus the race victory in Race Two. A healthy points total from the weekend has left him in third place in the drivers’ championship standings, but Tarquini will be hoping to climb further up the ladder this weekend.
He said: “The Hungaroring is one of the best tracks in the world. It will be very important to have a good weekend. Last year was a great experience and a fantastic result for me. The target for me is to do the maximum to score important points for the championship.”
Hyundai’s two WTCR debutants, Nicky Catsburg and Augusto Farfus endured a baptism of fire in Morocco. Having been leading Race Two, a brake failure prematurely ended Catsburg’s chance of victory, while Farfus was plagued with niggling mechanical issues and a slight lack of pace all weekend.
Following the controversial Moroccan street course, Farfus is glad to be back on a traditional circuit this weekend: “Hungary is the first true circuit of the season.” he said, “It’s a place I love, I have always done well here in the past. I’m still learning parts of the WTCR championship, but I can’t wait to hit the track and do my best.”
Likewise, Catsburg was also keen to put a positive spin on what has been a tough first few races for the Dutchman. He said: “Hungary is a great race: I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a beautiful circuit and Budapest is a beautiful city. There’s a great atmosphere, and a lot of nice Norbi Michelisz fans. I’m keen to pick up where we left off and score some important points.”
Team Principal of BRC Racing Team, Gabriele Rizzo, added: “Hungary is our first traditional circuit of the year, and will represent a very different challenge to Morocco. We’ve shown good pace at the Hungaroring in the past with the Hyundai i30 N TCR and we want to give Norbi’s home fans something to cheer about. We’re hoping to have a good weekend with what we know is a car capable of challenging for titles.”