Norbert Michelisz

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Norbert Michelisz 2019

The beginnings
I was born on the 8 of August 1984 in Himesháza near Pécs. I grew up there and because my uncle was a car mechanic and a rallye driver, I was charmed by the smell of petrol, burned tyres and brake pads in my early years. I was just seven years old when he built a small iron framed, gokart like car for me. I used to drive this vehicle on the dirt roads of my home town.

The era of simulator racing
In 2002 I sat in front of the television and watched live broadcasts of Formula 1 on hungarian television. Gábor Wéber was the expert presenter on these broadcasts, and was introduced as a world champion of simulator racing. This information made me curious so I googled him. I started to save some money to be able to buy Grand Prix Legends, the videogame he was successful in. After a while I took part in online championships.

For the first time in a racing car
Thanks to my results in online racing I met Gábor Wéber who, by that time, became the most successful car racer of Zengő Motorsport. It was him who had drawn the attention of Zoltán Zengő to my results in virtual games. Zoltán Zengő was the owner of Zengő Motorsport, so he gave me a chance to test a racing car on the Hungaroring in 2005. I was 21 years old when I drove a real race car for the first time in my life.

The early days of my career
After decision makers of Zengő Motorsport got to know me better, they entered me for the Suzuki Swift Cup in 2006, which was a newly founded Single Make Trophy with 26 entries in Hungary that time. I hadn’t been regarded as a potential winner but after claiming pole in the first race’s qualifying my confidence increased and I was able to win the whole series of competition in my first year of car racing. I started the next year in the Renault Clio Cup and altough at the beginning I experienced several failures, I managed to find the harmony with the car later and succeeded again.

On the international scene
Zengő Motorsport entered two cars to the SEAT Leon EuroCup in 2008, and one of these cars was driven by me. From the 3rd race weekend in Estoril I was four consecutive times on pole position and as a result of scoring the most points on the last race weekend in Monza, I was given a guest drive in the penultimate round of WTCC in Japan. Unfortunately I had to give up the first race because of a crash and finally I took 16th in the second one.

The year of breakthrough
I was lucky enough to avoid the unfortunate situations hitting us in 2008, and was able to win the championship one year later. As a result, we were able to advance together with Zengő Motorsport to the WTCC in 2010 with a SEAT Leon TDI.

The first Hungarian winner
It was my first full season in WTCC and my highlight of the year was the last weekend. In the last race of the season in Macau, I won and became the first Hungarian racing driver, who won a race in an FIA organized series, and finished 9th in the driver's standings.

The power of 70 thousand Hungarians
The team switched to BMW in 2011, which was a nice challenge. I finished 9th again at the end of a year with a lot of ups and downs. However I was compensated by 70 thousand hungarian fans, who were supporting me on the grandstands of my home event on the Hungaroring. World Touring Car Championship visited the Hungaroring for the first time in its history and my 2nd position in race one on home soil became one of my most precious memories.

Yokohama Trophy – success!
I experienced the first really significant success of my career in 2012. I finished 1st on home soil in May and took another two podium finishes in the season. Thanks to a consistent performance I won the Yokohama Trophy and finished 6th in driver's standings. This was an important step in my career, but my final goal remained to be world champion.

The new era: Honda
In 2013 we switched from BMW to Honda and it proved to be a good decision. I collected the most podium finishes in my career that season and on top I won the first race in Suzuka starting from pole position. I finished 6th overall again at the end of the year.

Consistency the key: 4th overall
From a professional point of view, 2014 was my best year in WTCC. It was my second season with the Civic, and altough the start of the season was slow for us I was delighted with my 4th overall position in the driver’s standings, because it was the best result in my entire career so far.

Goodbye Zengő Motorsport!

We weren't able to compete for the title, but the competition was very tough between Honda drivers in 2015 too. After the last race I narrowly lost to Tarquini, so I've had some negative feelings about the season. However, I shouldn't be disappointed in my 6th overall position. For example I won in the Race of Hungary, which was an unforgettable experience again. At the end of the season I left Zengő Motorsport after 10 successful years for JAS Motorsport, the official team of Honda.

First year as a factory driver

I made my debut with two podiums as a factory driver of JAS Motorsport in France. Unfortunatley, after Honda had been disqualified in Morocco, we did not have real chance any more to compete for the championship against Citroën, but in spite of this fact 2016 was my best year in WTCC until then. I scored career record amount of points and I reached the most podiums in a season. At the end I finished 4th overall, but I was quite close to be 3rd.

Best season so far: runner-up in WTCC

After the third round of the season I was 62 points behind the championship leader, but after this tough start, I could rebuild my hopes. I ended at least second in all of the next six qualifyings and before the last race weekend my handicap reduced to 6,5 points. Unluckily, during the last qualifying in Qatar my car suffered with brake issue, so I could not fight for the title in the last races and ended the season as a runner-up behind Thed Björk, which was my best result so far.

New era started: WTCR and Hyundai

In 2018 WTCC changed its name to WTCR. The new championship has new technical regulations and becomes very challenging with four former world champions, three-three BTCC and TCR-champions in the starting grid. I have been contesting as a works driver of Hyundai Motorsport in BRC Racing Team and finished 4th overall with six podium finishes and one victory.

Strongest ever grid in touring car racing

They say 2019 WTCR grid is the strongest ever in touring car racing. I started my second year as a works driver of Hyundai Motorsport in BRC Racing Team and there are seven former FIA-champion drivers between my opponents.

My favourite pics