The final races of the European leg of the 2011 FIA World Touring Car Championship at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit saw Norbert Michelisz and the Zengo-Dension team secure a brace of seventh places, but it could have been so much better for the young Hungarian driver during the second race.
Having arrived in Spain leading the Yokohama Independents Trophy, he leaves Spain lying second but just four points off the leading driver, Kristian Poulsen.
Round seventeen, the penultimate race on European soil saw Michelisz aim to stay on the inside for the first corner, in the hope of avoiding any carnage ahead of him. As it was, he was held up by a number of cars and dropped behind Poulsen and Javier Villa – he ended the opening laps eighth after a spin for Rob Huff in the Chevrolet.
Huff was soon back past the Hungarian driver, who in turn had moved ahead of SUNRED’s Tiago Monteiro as well as taking advantage of the late race retirement for Lukoil-SUNRED’s Gabriele Tarquini.
At the flag, Michelisz finished as he started, in seventh – a position which gave him third in the Yokohama Independent’s Trophy. Yvan Muller secured the victory ahead of his Chevrolet team-mate Alain Menu and Tom Coronel in the ROAL Motorsport BMW 320TC.
The eighteenth and final round of the European leg of the 2011 WTCC saw Michelisz in contention for a podium finish right up until the final corner. For a while, he had been running second after benefitting from the Tom Coronel/Javier Villa collision.
He had made a rocket start from eighth on the grid and as the field exited the first turn, Michelisz found himself lying third. He sat in third until the ninth lap when the Coronel/Villa incident took place – he was delayed by it but made one up one position, and kept the Chevrolet of Yvan Muller honest all the way but in the final corner, he spun away his chances of a podium finish.
He recovered to finish seventh once again and second in the Yokohama Independent’s Trophy. Yvan Muller led home a Chevrolet 1, 2, 3 when it looked likely that Michelisz could have been a part of a BMW 1, 2, 3.
Despite the unfortunate spin in the final corner, Michelisz can only take the positives away from the WTCC Race of Spain 2011, as he explains: “I’m really sorry for what happened; it would have been a huge boost for the whole team if I can get to the podium. Though it was bad to return to the pit, I can only the positives from this race, it is unforgettable. To be there at the front and keeping up with Yvan Muller’s pace was a feeling that I have imagined for myself and recently it started to get blurred. These 13 laps were the laps of my life; I was smiling all the way in the car. The mistake in the last corner was down to being inexperienced. Of course I will do my best to avoid them in the future but I feel that I still have a lot to learn. ”
Next up for Michelisz is a trip to Japan and the Suzuka East circuit over the 22/23 October. He heads there sitting eighth in the overall Drivers’ Championship, with eighty points, just a single point off seventh.
In the Yokohama Independents, he lies second but only four points off Kristian Poulsen while the team sit fifth in the Yokohama Teams’ Trophy on eighty four points.