Norbert Michelisz insists that he is not giving up on his dream of clinching the World Touring Car Championship title, despite a brake issue scuppering his chance of a strong qualifying results in Qatar.
Michelisz has slipped a further two points behind championship leader Thed Björk, after he was only able to qualify in 11th for Fridays final two races of the season, whilst his Volvo rival went on to secure fourth.
That has left the Hungarian with an uphill task ahead of him for Friday evening’s races, but Michelisz insists that the title is not yet over for him.
“Things were going extremely well in practice and then in Q1 because we were fastest,” said Michelisz. “But in Q2 I felt something not right with the braking in Turn 7 and Turn 8 and I had to back off after that.
“Unfortunately, there was no time to fix it before the end of Q2 so the result is P11 – a lot worse than we expected.
“We’ve fought for this title all season though, and we’re not going to give up now. The car is so fast here and I know I can make good progress. I’m going to give it everything.”
JAS Motorsport Team Principal Alessandro Mariani added that it was a day of mixed feelings so far, as Esteban Guerrieri was still able to comfortably put a Civic on pole position.
But with the issues, Honda are also on the back foot in the manufacturers’ title, where they trail Volvo by 16.5 points after also trailing in MAC3.
“I have very mixed feelings about the day so far,” said Mariani. “On the one hand, the Honda is clearly the fastest car here, as you can see from us being fastest in every session.
“On the other hand, I am so incredibly sorry for Norbi because his braking issue in Q2 is something we’ve never had before.
“It’s now very tough to win both the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships, but we’ve seen today that anything can happen in motorsport, so we’ll never give up until it’s over.”