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‘Fastest car’ fails to deliver Norbert Michelisz title in ‘best season’

Despite claiming he had the fastest car all weekend, Norbert Michelisz was unable to take the fight to Thed Björk for the World Touring Car Championship, having to settle for the runners-up spot in the standings.

Michelisz had been the quickest driver in the run-up to qualifying, topping both of Thursday’s free practice sessions before also going quickest in the Q1 segment of qualifying.

However, it all started to go wrong in Q2 for the Hungarian, whose Civic developed a brake issue and he could only qualify in 11th for both races.

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With overtaking being a challenge around the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, Michelisz could then only struggle to an eighth and ninth place finish in the races, unable to take the title fight to eventual champion Thed Björk.

Indeed, excluding retirements, Michelisz endured two of his worst result of the season as he slipped to 28.5 points behind Björk to lose the chance of the title.

“I had the fastest car throughout this weekend and I thought that would give me the best possible chance of fighting for the title,” said Michelisz. “Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way, but I gave it my all.

“After the issue with the brakes in qualifying, I knew I had two tough races ahead of me, and although I made some progress, the nature of this circuit makes overtaking very difficult, so I wasn’t able to do it.”

Michelisz was still pleased with what was his best-ever WTCC season, which also included three wins and six podium finishes.

“I’m still very proud to have finished second in the championship. It’s the best season of my life. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to come back next year and go one better.”

JAS Motorsport Team Principal Alessandro Mariani said he was still proud of Honda’s achievements, despite the marque missing out on both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships in the end.

“Today we were in total control in terms of speed,” said Mariani. “Esteban [Guerrieri] dominated the Main Race and Norbi was the strongest driver in qualifying, but unfortunately had a technical issue that meant he could not qualify where he deserved to.

“We have shown all season that we had the fastest car because we have won the most Main Races and had the most pole positions.

“I’m very disappointed that Norbi did not have the chance to win the Championship, but I am very proud of the engineering job we have done as a collaboration between the engineers from Honda, Mugen and JAS in producing the fastest TC1 car in the world.”

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