WTCC: Michelisz puts Honda on front row in Macau

Norbert Michelisz

Norbert Michelisz secured a front-row start for Honda with a superb performance in World Touring Car Championship qualifying on the streets of Macau.

The Hungarian, who had topped both free practice sessions, was also fastest in the Q2 section of qualifying, before confirming second place on the grid in the single-lap Q3.


Norbert’s sixth-consecutive front-row start equalled the all-time WTCC record; the bonus points awarded in Q3 reducing his deficit in the Drivers’ Championship to 14.5 points ahead of Saturday’s Opening Race, in which he starts eighth on the partially-reversed grid.

His Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team-mate Esteban Guerrieri produced a stunning late effort in Q2 to jump up to second place and secure his Q3 spot.

The Argentinan qualified fifth, which puts him fifth on the Opening Race grid.

Ryo Michigami continued his recent upturn in qualifying form and placed his Honda Racing Team JAS Civic seventh on the grid on his first appearance at Macau for 22 years.

His result means he will start the Opening Race from third place.

Following qualifying, the ninth MAC3 ‘Manufacturers Against the Clock’ session was held with Honda taking victory for a second straight event and further closing in on the lead of the Manufacturers’ Championship.

Norbert Michelisz #5 : « “I’m pretty satisfied to qualify second and equal the record for consecutive front-row starts, and very happy with the pace of the car from practice onwards. As a team we did our best today and I think I maximised my possibilities today because the pace was red-hot and I didn’t quite manage to claim pole position. I’m looking forward to both races; especially the Main Race on Sunday. I’ll be aiming to win, like I did here in 2010 here, and continue to close the gap in the championship.” »

Esteban Guerrieri #86: « “I’m happy with both my own performance and the team’s. This weekend has featured my first dry running with the car and the aim was to make it into Q3, which we achieved. I made a little mistake at Mandarin on my Q3 lap and lost more time by over-driving while trying to recover the time later in the lap. I think we have top-three speed in the car easily. I’m in a strong position to support Norbi and the team in both races.” »

Ryo Michigami #34: « “To qualify seventh is a strong result; my best in the WTCC in dry conditions. Without the constant red flags, which stopped me getting into a rhythm, I’m sure I could have been higher. The reversed-grid rules mean I start the Opening Race from third place and my aims are to make it onto the podium and to help Honda take maximum Manufacturers’ Championship points as we fight for that title.” »

Alessandro Mariani – Team Principal: « “I’m pretty happy with today’s results because coming here with 70kg Compensation Weight against some cars with 0kg meant we knew the challenge would be tough. But we’ve been inside the top two in every session and have shown excellent speed and consistency. We weren’t helped by the number of red flags, which stopped the drivers maximising their speed, but it affected everybody by the same amount, so it probably didn’t change things very much. Norbi’s front-row grid spot and our MAC3 win are both good for the championship. »

Ryuichi Furukawa – Large Project Leader WTCC Development, Honda R&D: « “Today’s results have been very good for the team and we’ve all pushed very hard for this at a circuit that often throws up unpredictable conditions, such as the many red flags we saw today. Norbi’s grid position is very good for the championship and we aim to win the Main Race, while Ryo is in a strong position to make it onto the podium in the Opening Race.” »
Press Release Castrol Honda,