Technical issue almost cost Norbert Michelisz WTCR title

New World Touring Car Cup champion Norbert Michelisz has revealed that he considered his title ambitions all but over after a technical issue manifested itself before the start of Sunday night’s dramatic season-finale at Sepang.

The 2019 WTCR title went down to the wire in a spectacular last-race scrap between Michelisz and Honda’s Esteban Guerrieri, with the Hungarian Hyundai star eventually coming out on top to seal an emotional first world touring car crown.

Michelisz, however, explained after the race – in which he finished fifth while Guerrieri retired as a result of contact with Cupra’s Mikel Azcona – that a technical problem had developed on his Hyundai i30 N TCR that caused it to cut out before the start.

“At the end of Race 2 there was a strange vibration and metallic noise in the car,” Michelisz revealed. “Then going to the grid in Race 3, I was going full throttle and the car was not accelerating. I honestly thought it was over. Rolling to the grid, the car turned off, so I was lucky even to get to my starting position.

“Then trying to restart the car, it was running on three cylinders, two cylinders, I don’t know what happened. Then I was lucky enough starting the formation lap that everything sort of reset, but honestly, starting Race 3 I wouldn’t have bet a lot of money that I would be celebrating the title.

“It was up and down, by far the longest day of my life. I couldn’t sleep last night – my thoughts were all about the three races. It was a roller-coaster, but the only thing that matters now is that we achieved what we really wanted.”

Michelisz, visibly touched by the moment, went on to reflect on the greatest achievement of his career so far.

“It’s difficult to describe all the emotions going through my body now,” said the 35-year-old. “The most important is a huge thank you to my family, to my team of course, and all the Hungarian people supporting me since a bit more than ten years now. You have to [take into consideration] that a bit more than ten years ago I was still playing computer games, hoping that I could start a professional career. I managed to do that and not only that, but here, winning for me the most important touring car championship… It is just unbelievable.”

Michelisz ends the 2019 World Touring Car Cup with a total tally of five wins and 370 championship points, 21 clear of runner-up Guerrieri.