Photo: Macau GP

Norbert Michelisz returns to world touring car glory

Fresh TCR World Tour champion Norbert Michelisz says recent setbacks on the international touring car stage has made him “a more complete” driver, ultimately paving his way to a second world title.

BRC Hyundai driver Michelisz did what was needed of him to seal the championship – the first under the new TCR World Tour banner – in the final race of the season at Macau on Sunday, taking a solitary P8 to add to his WTCR title from 2019. Michelisz had won the preceding Race 1 on Saturday to set up his title triumph.

Asked by TouringCarTimes where he rates his fresh title in comparison to the first, which he sealed at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit in December 2019, Michelisz replied:

“A very similar shelf. This year the competition was just as tough as 2019. I remember that year and that race in Malaysia like it was two weeks ago. The stress levels, the emotions were just as high crossing the finish line in Sepang. Although it’s a different name (WTCR in 2019, TCR World Tour in 2023), it’s still the same fierce competition.

“We had some moments during the year that were tough, but in the end when you win, it’s something that you rarely experience as a race car driver.”

The title marks a return to the top of international touring car racing for Michelisz, following a couple of more challenging campaigns since his 2019 crown.

“2020 was not an easy year for us,” Michelisz said. “We were never really in a position to fight. It was more or less the same in 2021. Last year, I think I did a very strong season. My problem was a big mistake I did in the first race, starting P1, crashing into the wall and picking up a penalty. Then with the points gap, it was just really difficult to recover, especially with (Hyundai team-mate) Mikel (Azcona) having such a fantastic season.

“The important thing is there’s always something to learn. I honestly think that without these tough years, I’m not sure I would have won this championship. Those moments make you more complete.

“I think you could see from the outside that my racing really improved this year.”

After some three weeks on the road with races in Australia and Macau, Michelisz is now looking forward to heading back to his native Hungary as celebrations ensue.

“I have two kids at home and I long to see them,” the new champion concluded. “I did not see them for more than three weeks, and I miss them a lot. But first, I will celebrate with the team and some friends here.”