Norbert Michelisz faces his fifth full season in the FIA World Touring Car Championship and the second at the wheel of a Honda Civic car run by Zengö Motorsport.
Michelisz is one of touring car’s emerging talents. He moved to WTCC after only a couple of season in the SEAT Eurocup, scoring three race wins (in three different cars), winning the 2012 Yokohama Trophy and finishing twice sixth in the Drivers’ Championship (2012 and 2013).
You attended last week’s test in Spain, when Tarquini and Monteiro drove the new Civic; what was your impression? “It was difficult to have a clear view of the car's performance, but the impression was very positive. Even though I did not drive, it was very useful to see how Gabriele and Tiago were handling the car and doing the development work. The words I had with them were already helpful for me in my preparations.”
Last year you were often the fastest Honda driver, are you aiming for improving those results? “Of course! It's always a nice feeling to be competitive among world class racing drivers. My target is to improve my performance every year, so I'm looking forward to the new season.”
You are among the most popular sportsmen in Hungary and fans flock to the Hungaroring for supporting you; how much pressure means this for you? “It was a huge honour for me to be voted the most popular sportsmen in Hungary for the third consecutive year. This meant extra pressure in the previous years, when I realized how many supporters I have. But now, I have the experience to focus on my job and enjoy the support from my fans that gives me extra motivations. Especially when things are not going in the right way.”
What do you expect from the competitors you will meet this year: Citroën, LADA and the teams running the RML cars? “It's difficult to say. At Citroën there are three world class drivers, a car that was tested for the last six months, but you must consider that it’s a new project for them. I'm sure Citroën will fight for race victories from the first moment. RML is one of the most competent teams, so there is no doubt about their car being strong again. However, because it will be run by customer teams, I don’t think that the Cruze can fight for the top championship positions on a long term, despite it will be driven by qualified drivers. LADA will profit the most from the new regulations. Considering this and the fact that they have two strong drivers like Thompson and Huff, we can expect them to fight for podium finishes at least.”
WTCC was the first professional series you competed in and in 2014 you will reach the mark of the 100th race in the championship. Are you happy with the results you have claimed so far? “It's unbelievable how fast time goes by. I will celebrate my 100th race at the Hungaroring event, so it will be very special. The last four years have been the most challenging, but also the happiest years of my life. I'm proud of the results I achieved, but I also know that there is still a long way to go for me to grow as a racing driver and win races more frequently.”
During the two latest seasons you finished sixth in the Drivers’ Championship. Do you think it will be possible to better this position in 2014? “It's my goal to improve the position every year, but we have to see how competitive our package will be. For me the most important thing is to improve my racing race after race and be competitive with the drivers who have the same material. If I achieve that goal and win some races, then I will be happy!”