Second verse, same as the first for the WTCR in Hungary?
The World Touring Car Cup heads to the Hungaroring this weekend near Budapest, the home round of last year’s WTCC drivers’ championship runner-up Norbert Michelisz, and with Hyundai proving to be the car to beat, and with no changes in performance weight between the first two events, it remains to be seen if the South Korean manufacturer will be as strong as they were on the streets of Marrakech three weeks’ ago.
Hungarian touring car hero Norbert Michelisz can expect the usual support of his patriotic crowd, which have been bellowing out “Norbi!” from the grandstands since 2011, with the Hungarian round a mainstay and a popular event on the calendar due to the incredible atmosphere at the circuit.
That said, the circuit has not been one for much overtaking, with the exception of the 2016 event which took place in the rain which shook things up a bit. A key difference this year however will be that overtaking was proven possible at the Hungaroring last year with TCR regulations, with 18-year-old Attila Tassi taking two wins, one from the reversed grid, at the TCR International Series round at the same circuit last year.
Tassi will also make his debut on the World stage this weekend, driving a Honda Civic Type R TCR for KCMG, as one of two wild card entries on the grid. The other being entry is run by Tassi’s former team, M1RA, who will run a Hyundai i30 N TCR for former WTCC driver Daniel Nagy.
With M1RA’s Hyundai the fifth of the manufacturer on the grid, the question to be answered this weekend will be whether the i30s will be as strong as they were in Morocco, when they arguably dominating proceedings, with Gabriele Tarquini, Norbert Michelisz, Yvan Muller and Thed Björk all putting on astonishing performances.
They were only scuppered during the reversed grid race, when last year’s TCR International Series champion Jean-Karl Vernay came up trumps in the Team WRT Audi RS 3 LMS, but the Frenchman was quick to question the pace of the Hyundais, and was hoping for a redress of the Balance of Performance (BoP) before this weekend.
Race 1 and 3 winner Gabriele Tarquini, driving for BRC Racing Team, said a BoP adjustment would be a hasty move, with the Moroccan street circuit seemingly favouring the characteristics of the i30, and the proof would be at the next round in Hungary, at a more traditional circuit to see if the BoP was in fact off centre.
With overtaking certainly more possible at the Hungarian circuit, an even more exciting spectacle should await following a thrilling curtain raiser in Morocco at the start of the month. The local crowd will certainly be hoping the Hyundais will be as strong as they were last time out, with national hero Michelisz behind the wheel of the #5 BRC Racing Team entry, chasing the first World Touring Car Cup victory at his home track.
The Audis of Team WRT and Comtoyou Racing will likely be strong as well, while Honda will have six of its brand-new Civic Type Rs on the grid, with Tassi joining its existing stable of two Boutsen Ginion Hondas for Benjamin Lessennes and Tom Coronel, and the three-car line-up of Yann Ehrlacher, Esteban Guerrieri and James Thompson at Münnich Motorsport.
“Hungary is my chance to kick-start my season after a challenging weekend in Morocco with the technical issue that prevented me from qualifying and finishing higher,” said Guerrieri. “It’s a tough circuit, but one where I’ve always been competitive, whatever the series. The team and I are now really starting to work well together and the Hungaroring was where they scored their first World Touring Car win five years ago, so it’s clear that we have everything we need to achieve some really strong finishes and move up the points table.”
Michelisz said: “I’m very excited to race in front of my fans this weekend on the Hungaroring. The i30 N TCR proved to be a very competitive car in in the hands of BRC Racing Team in Marrakech. Although the Hungaroring is a very different type of circuit to where we started the season we want to show the same level of performance this weekend. It is an incredibly demanding circuit, where overtaking is tricky, so I’ll try to do my very best in both qualifying sessions to start from as far ahead as possible.”
No – Driver – Nat – Team – Car
5 – Norbert Michelisz – HUN – BRC Racing Team – Hyundai i30 N TCR
7 – Aurélien Comte – FRA – DG Sport Compétition – Peugeot 308TCR
8 – Norbert Nagy – HUN – Zengo Motorsport – Cupra TCR
9 – Tom Coronel – NED – Boutsen Ginion Racing – Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR
10 – Gianni Morbidelli – ITA – Team Mulsanne – Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR
11 – Thed Bjork – SWE – Yvan Muller Racing – Hyundai i30 N TCR
12 – Rob Huff – GBR – Sébastieb Loeb Racing – Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
15 – James Thompson – GBR – Münnich Motorsport – Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR
19 – Attila Tassi – HUN – KCMG – Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR
20 – Denis Dupont – BEL – Comtoyou Racing – Audi RS 3 LMS
21 – Aurélien Panis – FRA – Comtoyou Racing – Audi RS 3 LMS
22 – Frédéric Vervisch – BEL – Comtoyou Racing – Audi RS 3 LMS
23 – Nathanaël Berthon – FRA – Comtoyou Racing – Audi RS 3 LMS
25 – Mehdi Bennani – MOR – Sébastieb Loeb Racing – Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
27 – John Filippi – FRA – Campos Racing – Cupra TCR
30 – Gabriele Tarquini – ITA – BRC Racing Team – Hyundai i30 N TCR
48 – Yvan Muller – FRA – Yvan Muller Racing – Hyundai i30 N TCR
52 – Gordon Shedden – GBR – Team WRT – Audi RS 3 LMS
63 – Benjamin Lessennes – BEL – Boutsen Ginion Racing – Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR
66 – Zsolt Szabo – HUN – Zengo Motorsport – Cupra TCR
68 – Yann Ehrlacher – FRA – Münnich Motorsport – Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR
69 – Jean-Karl Vernay – FRA – Team WRT – Audi RS 3 LMS
70 – Mat’o Homola – SVK – DG Sport Compétition – Peugeot 308TCR
74 – Pepe Oriola – ITA – Campos Racing – Cupra TCR
86 – Esteban Guerrieri – ARG – Münnich Motorsport – Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR
88 – Fabrizio Giovanardi – ITA – Team Mulsanne – Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR
99 – Daniel Nagy – M1RA – Hyundai i30 N TCR
Saturday 28th April
08:30 – Free Practice 1
10:15 – Free Practice 2
12:30 – Qualifying
15:25 – Race 1 (12 laps)
Sunday 29th April
10:00 – Qualifying
15:30 – Race 2 (12 laps)
16:55 – Race 3 (15 laps)