Norbert Michelisz takes inaugural TCR WT drivers’ title | Hyundai N
- Hyundai Elantra N TCR driver Norbert Michelisz has secured the Kumho TCR World Tour for Drivers title after finishing eighth in Race 2 at the Macau Grand Prix
- It marks the second international touring car title for the Hungarian, after he was crowned the 2019 drivers’ winner in WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup
- Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing team BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse secured third place in the Kumho TCR World Tour for Teams.
November 19, 2023 – BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse driver Norbert Michelisz has won the 2023 Kumho TCR World Tour for Drivers following a strong performance at the Macau Grand Prix, the final round of the inaugural season.
The result, which marks the sixth title for Hyundai Motorsport customers at the highest level of TCR competition, underscores the Hyundai Elantra N TCR’s position at the top of the global touring car category.
The Hungarian arrived at the Macau Circuito da Guia one point adrift from the lead of the standings. He got off to a flying start, finishing the free practice sessions in third and first respectively. His pace continued into qualifying where he clinched the final pole position of the season, re-taking the lead of the standings with a six-point gap to second.
The #105 driver extended that lead to 18-points on Saturday after taking a lights-to-flag victory in Race 1 before managing the second contest superbly, avoiding trouble and banking the result he needed to confirm the title. His eighth place brought his points tally to a total of 440 – ten more than his nearest rival at the conclusion of the year. By clinching the title, Michelisz adds a second championship success alongside his 2019 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup drivers’ crown.
Michelisz set out his title-winning intentions early, opening the season in April with pole position and a win in Race 1 at the Autódromo Internacional Algarve in Portugal. That momentum continued into the second round at Spa-Francorchamps, and even though Michelisz was carrying maximum compensation weight, he secured a second-place finish in Race 2. The Hungarian’s second victory came in Vallelunga at round three after starting on pole in Race 1. A further second place finish came in Race 1 at La Pedrera, Argentina helped him to reclaim the lead of the standings after dropping to second in Hungary.
The triple-header to round out the season was nothing short of dramatic, with eight races across three rounds, and the standings’ leader changed after almost every race. A second place in Sydney and victory in Bathurst alongside four other points scoring finishes in Australia helped the Hungarian to stay in the fight into the final round.
The final race weekend in Macau saw team-mate Mikel Azcona top the timing sheets in first practice, before qualifying on the front row alongside Michelisz. A grid place penalty forced him to start Race 1 in fifth, but he had no issues in gaining a place at the start. He was applying pressure to the car in third place for the entirety of the race, chasing down the final podium position but had to settle for fourth. In Race 2 he finished ninth after starting in the same place on the partly-reversed grid. As a result, he secured fifth place in the standings.
BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse also fielded a third Hyundai Elantra N TCR in Macau, driven by Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver Marco Butti and supported by a local team. As a rookie to the streets of the Guia Circuit, Butti impressed after progressing into the second stage of qualifying in 12th. A hit to the barrier meant he wasn’t able to improve his time, and a new engine meant he started Race 1 from 17th. He made up six places to finish 11th before completing the season with a top ten finish behind the pair of full-season Elantra N TCR drivers.
The pace of the Hyundai Elantra N TCR and the results accumulated across the season, gave BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse a third-place finish in the final Kumho TCR World Tour for Teams standings. The outfit amassed three pole positions, nine fastest laps, 13 podium visits and five wins across the 20-race season, three of which were 1-2 finishes in Portimão, Vallelunga and La Pedrera.
Hyundai Motorsport President Sean Kim said: “Many congratulations to Norbert for his win in the inaugural Kumho TCR World Tour, and his second title with Hyundai Motorsport. It is a fantastic achievement for all those who are connected with Hyundai, our Customer Racing department and the N brand. For the Hyundai Elantra N TCR to have won international touring car competitions for two successive years after Mikel’s WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup title in 2022 is a great indication of the performance of the car, talent of the drivers, customer team, and the hard work of the Customer Racing department in Alzenau.”
Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “It is a proud moment for another Hyundai Motorsport customer to win in the top level of touring car competition. Norbert has driven extremely well this year and deserves this second title to his name as a reward after what has been a close season of racing. We cannot ignore Mikel’s performances during the year, with the team taking three 1-2 finishes on track. From the start this has been a season of new challenges, with different race formats and new circuits to learn and adapt to. The success we can now celebrate is a testament to the all-round strength of the Hyundai Elantra N TCR package, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse and our Customer Racing department.”
Norbert Michelisz said: “I am thrilled to have won the inaugural Kumho TCR World Tour title. It has been a long season, but we started and ended it in the best way possible. Without the work of BRC and the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing department, this would not have been possible, and I can’t thank them enough. They have provided me with a competitive package in the Hyundai Elantra N TCR which helped myself and Mikel fight at the front of the field all year. I knew exactly what I had to do in the final race and the team were telling me what the other drivers were doing so I knew if I needed to push. I won my first WTCC race in Macau, so it has always been a special place for me, but Macau just got even more special.”
Mikel Azcona said: “It’s been a very emotional weekend in Macau. As a team we came with the target to win the title with Norbi. From first practice the car was very competitive and it gave me the confidence to push and get close to the walls on this very challenging track. After finishing P1 and P2 in qualifying we were fully focussed on the races – how to avoid any drama and stay away from competitors. As a team I think we managed everything perfectly. I love this track. There are a lot of positives I can take away from this weekend and it is great experience for next year, but the most important is Norbi won the title. I’m so happy for him and team to achieve the target we had.”
2023 Kumho TCR World Tour for Drivers’ Standings
- After round 9
- 1. Norbert Michelisz 440
- 2. Yann Ehrlacher 430
- 3. Rob Huff 414
- 4. Frédéric Vervisch 347
- 5. Mikel Azcona 341
- 6. Nestor Girolami 340
- 7. Thed Björk 320
- 8. Santiago Urrutia 283
- 9. Ma Qing Hua 265
- 10. Will Brown 95
- 11. John Filippi 92
- 12. Tony D’Alberto 82
- 13. Tom Coronel 76
- 14. Kobe Pauwels 74
- 15. Aaron Cameron 61
2023 Kumho TCR World Tour for Teams’ Standings
- After round 9
- 1. Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 977
- 2. Audi Sport Team Comtoyou 810
- 3. BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse 805
- 4. ALM Motorsport 182
- 5. Wall Racing 169
- 6. Comtoyou Racing 148
- 7. HMO Customer Racing 114
- 8. Garry Rogers Motorsport 107
- 9. Melbourne Performance Centre 101
- 10. Comtoyou 91