Norbert Michelisz says he is feeling ‘really confident’ ahead of the start of the FIA World Touring Car Cup season, despite the Hungarian changing team and car to BRC Racing and Hyundai.
Michelisz, who finished as the runner-up in the 2017 World Touring Car Championship with Honda, is one of the favourites for the title in 2018.
The 33-year-old Hungarian will partner touring car veteran Gabriele Tarquini in the Italian BRC team, with the team’s Hyundai i30 N TCR tipped to be one of the cars to beat in the coming season.
“I did some testing, I feel confident and for me this is the most important thing – to be settled within the team, and to get to a proper level with the car. I feel ready in these aspects,” said Michelisz to TouringCars.Net.
“Obviously, a lot of things depend on BoP [Balance of Performance] and what the others are doing, so in the end the approach has to be to be confident and then we just have to wait and see.”
Michelisz says he is looking forward to re-establishing a working relationship with Tarquini, with the pair having cooperated in 2014 and 2015 when Michelisz was in a Zengő Motorsport Honda and Tarquini was at the factory Honda team.
“I’m looking forward to working with him again, because he is experienced and transparent. Of course, I hope there will be a bit of rivalry during the season, but I really enjoy working with him, because of his transparency.
“I know that we might have some moments on the circuit, but luckily I don’t expect that we cannot talk, no matter what happens, and for me this is the most important thing.”
The eight-time race winner is expecting the new Honda Civic cars to be amongst the leading contenders in the coming season.
“I have some information about the new Civic Type-R because I was doing some testing last year, and for me that car seems to be very competitive and very strong.
“Also, with the driver line-up they have, I think they are one of the biggest, if not the biggest, contender for the title.”
Michelisz, who last year also set up his own team with race engineer Dávid Bári, admits that it was a difficult decision to leave the Honda family for 2018 after having raced the Japanese machinery for five years, including two with the factory-backed JAS Motorsport outfit.
“It’s always difficult to leave something behind,” added Michelisz. “I felt very good inside the team, but in the end I realised that as a sportsman or as a person, I felt the need for a change around me, to be motivated and to have the possibility to perform at the same level as I did in the second part of last season.
“In the end, BRC Racing and Hyundai have welcomed me in a very friendly and nice way, and I believe that I made the right decision to join the BRC Racing Team. Already now, after one or two months, I feel at home, which is very nice to say.
“But also driving the car, like I said, I really feel confident for the season.”