Norbert Michelisz heads to the Twin Ring Motegi for this weekend’s World Touring Car Championship races in Japan carrying Honda’s hopes, after team-mate Tiago Monteiro was forced to skip a second event.
Michelisz is now just two points away from the lead of the drivers’ championship standings heading to the far east, giving the Hungarian a genuine shot at overall glory.
The 33-year-old has good form in Japan, having won twice in the country – both in Honda machinery – including a memorable pole position and Opening Race win last year.
“I’ve never been as close to the lead of the championship as I am now,” said Michelisz, who will again have to carry the maximum 80 kg of compensation weight in his Civic this weekend. “We have some great momentum, which is extremely exciting as we enter the final stages of the season.
“I’m happy to be going back to Japan because I’ve always had a very good record there with wins, podiums and pole positions.
“Of course, Motegi is Honda’s home circuit and I took my first win as a factory driver there last year, so that gives me even better memories, but this weekend is all about scoring big points and trying to take over the series lead.”
Whilst Michelisz’s title efforts have been boosted by the absence of his leading team-mate, he admits it is a shame to be benefitting at his colleague’s expense.
“It’s a huge shame that Tiago is not ready to return, but I’ll be doing my very best for the team and for him.”
Qualifying and both races are scheduled to take place on Sunday in an unusual change of plans for the WTCC schedule.