WTCC Qualif: Michelisz takes pole for Honda in Germany

Norbert Michelisz © DR

Honda claimed a second pole position of the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship season thanks to a sensational late effort from Norbert Michelisz at the legendary Nurburgring in Germany.

The Hungarian, who began the day eighth in the Drivers’ Championship, had set top-two times in all of Thursday and Friday’s running ahead of qualifying, and then blasted around the 170-corner track, known as ‘Green Hell’ over half a second faster than anybody else in his Civic WTCC.


It was Norbert’s first pole position of the year and the fourth of his WTCC career.

His Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team-mate Tiago Monteiro, who leads the Drivers’ points standings, lapped at a similar pace to Michelisz throughout the session and looked set for an attempt at pole himself, only to suffer a damper issue on his final flying lap.

The Portuguese driver qualified fourth for the Main Race, which ensures he starts seventh for the reversed-grid Opening Race on Saturday with Norbert 10th.

Ryo Michigami, who is racing on the 15-mile Nordschleife for the first time this weekend, made strong progress throughout practice and qualifying.

More than halving the gap to the pace-setters from Thursday onwards, the Japanese driver equalled his best starting spot of the season in 11th place and will start there in both races after an impressive effort.

After qualifying, the fourth MAC3 session of the year took place with the Honda trio finishing second overall

Sunday’s Opening Race takes place at 1120 with the Main Race at 1245.

Norbert Michelisz #5 : « “I’m super happy with the result today. It’s a great feeling to get my first pole as a factory Honda driver. Even from the first lap of practice this morning, I had a lot of confidence with the Civic. We’d been fast yesterday and it was really just a case of fine-tuning what we had and maximising the performance in this afternoon’s warm temperatures. To come to a track that shouldn’t, on paper, suit us, and then take pole is absolutely fantastic and I have to thank the team for their great work. Tomorrow the aim is to win the Main Race; nothing less.” »

Tiago Monteiro #18 : « “Firstly a huge congratulations to Norbi, who has done a fantastic job all weekend and deserves his pole position. I’m pretty happy with my speed in qualifying. I wasn’t particularly confident with the way my car felt in practice, but the team worked hard to tweak the set-up and with new tyres we were very fast this afternoon. The fight for pole was very close between four of us, but I had a damper issue on my last lap which means I qualified fourth. I don’t have a target for the races, but if there’s a good chance for a win or a podium, I’ll be sure to take it.” »

Ryo Michigami #34 : « “This weekend has been a big learning experience for me because this is such a difficult circuit not only to drive, but to get the set-up right for. I seem to be in the fight for P10 and the reversed-grid pole position almost every weekend and we’re not far away from breaking through, which would be a great result for the team. Today we were good enough for P11 and that puts me in a good position to fight for points tomorrow in both races.” »

Alessandro Mariani – Team Principal : « “I’m very pleased for Norbi and his engineers, who have worked very hard to regroup after Hungary and have been rewarded very well with Norbi’s first pole position for us in what was the most exciting qualifying session for a long time, in my opinion. He has a very good chance to win tomorrow. I believe Tiago could have joined him on the front row if he hadn’t had the damper issue on his last lap in qualifying, but again his engineers have worked very well to improve the speed of his car throughout the weekend. Ryo has also shown improved pace as well, which is very pleasing, considering he’s never raced here before.” »

Ryuichi Furukawa – Large Project Leader WTCC Development, Honda R&D : « “Today we’ve worked very hard and had a strong result with pole position for Norbi. I’m a little disappointed it wasn’t an all-Honda front row because I think without Tiago’s issue, I think it was possible. Ryo is also knocking on the door of the top 10, and if he can keep up his progress, we can start getting poles for the Opening Race as well as the Main Race. Tomorrow our aim is to win the Main Race and maximise the points possibilities in the Opening Race.” »