One driver in particular who will be hoping that ‘Pechito’ López’s winless streak in Eastern Europe continues is Norbert Michelisz.
The chase for FIA World Touring Car Championship success is very much on and José María López is the driver to catch when MOL Group WTCC Race of Hungary takes place from 1-3 May in front of an expected near-capacity crowd.
Following a sensational start to the new season, the defending world champion heads the race for WTCC success by 17 points on the back of standout wins in Argentina and Morocco. However, Hungaroring, which is located northeast of the capital Budapest, is one of only three venues where the Citroën Total WTCC driver failed to win in 2014, a statistic that will cheer the chasing pack.
One driver in particular who will be hoping that ‘Pechito’ López’s winless streak in Eastern Europe continues is Norbert Michelisz, voted Hungary’s top sports personality for the last three years and an established frontrunner in the WTCC in his Zengő Motorsport Honda Civic, which features several upgrades for this event.
“My home race is always very special and maybe with the positive energy from the fans, some luck and better possibilities with the development parts on the car I think we will be able to fight, even for a race victory,” said ‘Norbi’, who will receive huge fan support throughout the weekend.
The four-time winner
Following his maiden win of 2015 in Morocco, Yvan Muller will be eyeing more glory. The four-time WTCC champion has been a winner every year the WTCC has visited Hungary and will be a contender for top spot again this season, as will team-mates Sébastien Loeb (France), currently second in the title chase, and China’s Ma Qing Hua, who completes the factory Citroën line-up.
Tiago Monteiro, twice on the Hungary podium in 2014,and former champion Gabriele Tarquini will look to take advantage of a package of improvements designed to make their Honda Civic WTCCs even more competitive. Meanwhile, LADA trio Rob Huff, Mikhail Kozlovskiy and James Thompson will continue to develop the all-new Vesta TC1, while chasing championship points.
The Hungaroring is famed for hosting the first Formula One grand prix behind the Iron Curtain in 1986. It’s one of two current Formula One venues to feature on the WTCC calendar and has hosted the championship since 2011. While overtaking can be tricky in the tight and twisty second sector, the charge to the first corner, the plunge down to turn two, plus the climb to turn four means there’s always plenty of dramatic entertainment to savour.
For 2015, MOL Group – an integrated, independent, international oil and gas company headquartered in Budapest – becomes the Event Presenting Partner. As well as two 14-lap WTCC races, the FIA European Touring Car Cup will begin at the Hungaroring with an exciting line-up of cars and drivers in action.
Tom Chilton: The Briton’s Yokohama Drivers’ Trophy success in the second Morocco race, his first using an upgraded engine in his Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1, puts him two points behindMehdi Bennaniin the title standings and one place adrift of Norbert Michelisz.
Tom Coronel: A frustrating start to 2015 means the DHL-backed Dutchman has yet to score points. Will Hungary be the weekend when it all comes good for the ROAL Motorsport driver?
Stefano D’Aste: A former team-mate of Valentino Rossi’s during his previous career as a motorbike racer, D’Aste arrives in Hungary on the back of a strong weekend in Marrakech.
Grégoire Demoustier: Brake problems hampered the youngster’s Craft-Bamboo Chevrolet in Morocco, but his track knowledge will aid his progression in Hungary.
John Filippi: Having bagged his first TC1 points in Morocco, the WTCC’s youngest driver, aged 20, will bid to continue that momentum in Eastern Europe.
Mikhail Kozlovskiy: The Russian made the headlines for the wrong reasons in Marrakech when he crashed into LADA team-mate Rob Huff in race two. He’s hoping for better things in Hungary.
Rickard Rydell: The experienced Rydell’s participation in Hungary remains subject to confirmation after he was diagnosed with thyroiditis, an inflammation of the thyroid gland.
Hugo Valente: Like Chilton, Valente was using an upgraded engine in his Campos Chevrolet in Marrakech and showed pace and potential aplenty.
Dušan Borković has announced that he will switch to the FIA ETCC for the remainder of 2015.