Honda secured a sixth podium finish of the 2017 FIA World Touring Car Championship as Norbert Michelisz claimed second place in the Main Race at the legendary Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany.
Polesitter Norbert, who was suffering from a clutch issue, lost the lead at the start, but showed determination to resist extreme race-long pressure from behind to claim the runner-up spot.
The Hungarian had early taken his Honda Civic WTCC to seventh place in the Opening Race; ensuring his first double-finish since the season’s opening event in Morocco.
His Castrol Honda World Touring Car team-mate Tiago Monteiro, who arrived in Germany leading the Drivers’ Championship, endured a hugely frustrating weekend.
Running comfortably in sixth place in the Opening Race, the Portuguese driver suffered a final-lap puncture at high speed, sending his Civic WTCC into a barrier and causing significant damage to his car.
Tiago showed guile and determination to nurse his car back to the pits in 15th place and give his crew a chance to fix his car for the Main Race. Unfortunately, the extent of the damage meant his car could not be repaired before the pitlane closed, meaning he was to forfeit his second-row grid position.
Starting from the pitlane, and with the guesting European Touring Car Trophy cars to contend with as well as his WTCC rivals, Tiago’s job was further complicated. He finished 13th.
Ryo Michigami, who was undertaking his first two races on the Nordscheife, was fighting for a points finish in the Opening Race when he felt a vibration that resulted in a puncture as he crossed the line 12th.
First-lap contact in the Main Race and an instant power-steering fluid leak forced his early retirement.
Tiago and Honda lie second in the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships and are aiming to re-take the initiative in both on his home streets of Vila Real, Portugal, in three weeks’ time. Norbert has climbed to seventh, but just 31 points off the series lead with 30 available for a Main Race Win. Ryo lies 15th.
Norbert Michelisz #5 : « I’m happy to be on the podium again at the Nurburgring. Pole position and now second place in the Main Race are good for me. I knew that it would be very difficult to win today because of how hard it is to defend on the main straight when your rivals have a slipstream, so second is a good result. I had some problems with the clutch already in the Opening Race and couldn’t really keep the car in neutral, so my start in the Main Race wasn’t amazing. I also had a vibration on the last lap in the Opening Race, after which I backed off to save the car, because I feared I could suffer a puncture like Tiago and Ryo did. »
Tiago Monteiro #18 : « Today was a really good opportunity to consolidate the championship lead, but because of a puncture in the Opening Race, which put me into a barrier, this wasn’t possible. It’s extremely frustrating to have this happen. I was also put on the grass by Rob Huff on the first lap. which was very unnecessary because he had room to pass me without coming over on me. I’m incredibly proud of my guys for fixing the car and getting me out for the Main Race, but starting from the pitlane makes points nearly impossible. I’ve lost my championship lead, but there’s still more than half a season to fight for the title. »
Ryo Michigami #34 : « I was confident of scoring some points today and I think we had the speed in the car, but unfortunately it did not happen. In the Opening Race I felt a vibration going through Karussel on the last lap, slowed down for the rest of the race, and then had a puncture as I crossed the finish line. In the Main Race I had a little contact at the first corner and when I got to the first hairpin the steering locked solid and I couldn’t turn. I came into the pits to have the car checked and we found the power-steering fluid had leaked out so unfortunately I couldn’t continue. »
Alessandro Mariani – Team Principal : « I’m very pleased for Norbi because he’s driven very well today and put himself right back into the fight for the championship. I’m also very frustrated for Tiago because he’s scored zero points because of a puncture in the Opening Race. He has now lost the championship lead on a weekend that should have been a good one for him. Ryo had contact on the first lap of the Main Race, which is a disappointment. »
Ryuichi Furukawa – Large Project Leader WTCC Development, Honda R&D : « Norbi has had a very good result in Race Two, especially as he was having an issue with the clutch that compromised his start. We knew it would be very difficult for our cars to pass on the straight here, so Norbi did a great job to defend. We’re very disappointed to have suffered punctures with both the cars of Tiago and Ryo on the Opening Race, but the Drivers’ Championship is now wide open and we have two drivers in the fight, which is exciting for the rest of the season. »
Press Release Castrol,