Norbert Michelisz closed to within a handful of points of the FIA World Touring Car Championship lead with a deserved podium finish on the streets of Macau on Sunday.
The Hungarian started from the front row and ran second throughout the Main Race, which was held in damp conditions, to secure his sixth podium finish of the season. He is now just 6.5 points away from the head of the Drivers’ Championship with a round to go.
The result was equally important after the Castrol Honda WTCC mechanics had spent a sleepless night repairing damage sustained to the Civics of Norbert and team-mate Esteban Guerrieri.
Norbert is now just 6.5 points away from the series lead with 60 available at the season finale in Qatar in 12 days.
Having started fifth, Esteban made excellent progress to move up to third by half-distance. He finished fourth to ensure a maximum Manufacturers’ score and move Honda to within 12.5 points of the championship lead.
Following his history-making podium finish on Saturday, Ryo Michigami was again aiming for a strong result from seventh on the grid.
Unfortunately, contact from another car on the opening lap knocked his steering out of alignment and cost him three places. A trip down the escape road mid-race dropped him to 15th by the chequered flag.
Norbert Michelisz #5 : « Second place is a hugely important result for the Drivers’ Championship fight and I’m only 6.5 points behind now heading to Qatar. None of this would have been possible without the incredible job by the team. We had two cars with big damage yesterday and they worked all night, finishing at 6am. I tried to attack for the win early on because in the wet, I think I had the best package, but in the damp, I didn’t quite have the confidence to push. Esteban was a big help by getting into third place and helping me to make a safe gap, so a big thank you to him too. »
Esteban Guerrieri #86 : « That’s four races for me with Honda and four finishes in the top six, which I think shows good consistency. It was a lot of fun to drive in these conditions and I had great pace from my car, so I have to thank the team who stayed up all night to fix it after yesterday. I was able to move into third, but it wasn’t easy to stay there because I had to make sure not to hit Norbi, but also to hold off Tom Chilton. In the end I ran wide on the last lap and lost a podium, but it didn’t affect the Manufacturers’ Championship points, which was important. I’m very satisfied. »
Ryo Michigami #34 : « I was quite confident of moving up the order after yesterday’s podium finish, but I was hit on the first lap by Nick Catsburg and lost a lot of positions. The alignment wasn’t right with the car after that, but I still managed to recover to 10th. A few laps later I ran down the escape road at Lisboa, had to recover and lost a lot of time. The conditions were very tricky today in the damp, but as a team we still made up big points in the Manufacturers’ Championship, which was our aim. »
Alessandro Mariani – Team Principal : « Second and fourth places are strong results and also mean we had the top two Manufacturer cars today. The team did an incredible job beyond incredible, in fact to do an impossible job and repair two badly-damaged cars overnight. This result is 100% for them. Looking at the bigger picture, our aim for this weekend was to continue to close the gap to the leaders of the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships and we’ve done this. I think it’s going to be a very competitive final round in Qatar. »
Ryuichi Furukawa – Large Project Leader WTCC Development, Honda R&D : « We have made up a lot of ground in the battle for the Championship today, as we did yesterday, and this is thanks to some fantastic driving by Norbi and Esteban as well as incredible teamwork by everybody in the garage to repair the heavy damage to their cars sustained yesterday. The pace was strong on-track and Esteban did a great job to take big manufacturer points. »
Press Release – Honda Castrol,