Norbert Michelisz says he felt confident from the off in the FIA World Touring Car Cup meeting in Bahrain, where the Hyundai driver enjoyed by far his best weekend of the season thus far.
Michelisz, who until the Middle Eastern races had yet to even score a podium in 2022, was on strong form, qualifying his Hyundai in fourth on Friday, before going on to finish second behind BRC Racing team-mate Mikel Azcona in the opening race.
Saturday’s second encounter then saw the Hungarian move up from seventh on the grid in the opening corners, with a crash ahead of him eliminating several rivals and seeing him end the lap in second.
With only the Honda of Esteban Guerrieri ahead – and knowing the Civics were struggling for straight-line performance in Bahrain – Michelisz then pounced early at the start of lap five to take the lead with a late-braking move into the first corner.
The 2019 champion paced the field thereafter to secure his first win of the year and move up to fifth overall in the drivers’ standings.
“It’s just amazing, fantastic – it feels a bit like a dream, especially after the tough season so far,” said Michelisz.
“I have to say that at certain circuits you have this – the circuit was coming to me, I was feeling confident from the first moment and we managed to improve the car and obviously in qualifying I felt it was going to be good.
“Of course, you can always have difficulties in the races, get involved in accidents especially after the start, but I tried to do clever races.
“Fortunately, I had a good start again today and managed to overtake one or two cars. Then I think I got lucky in Turn 4 because there was an accident and then I was right behind Esteban.
“At the time to be honest I knew that I probably had the pace to follow him. Of course with these temperatures following another car is never easy, Esteban had really good pace. He was pushing but I tried to wait for my time and tried to surprise him because I felt my tyres were starting to go off, and fortunately it worked out.
“Again I don’t want to say it was easy, but I had a fantastic car today which was helping me to execute the moves so in the end I’m very, very happy for myself.
“I feel that I deserved it to be honest and I am very happy it worked out. Happy for the team of course, again important points for the teams’ championship and the drivers’, so it cannot be much better than this.”
Michelisz is looking to end the year on a high with further progression up the championship order, but admits there are a lot of unknowns about the season finale in Saudi Arabia in two weeks’ time.
“It is very difficult to judge,” said Michelisz. “I don’t have a clue about the circuit. I was watching some Formula One races but as far as I know it will be a slightly different layout for us. No clue.
“Usually, street circuits are good for us. I really like them, but Jeddah will be a completely new challenge.
“So we can be in front, we can be around the back of the grid, in the middle – I really don’t know. I will do my best.
“My feeling is we can be competitive. If it’s enough to do a weekend like we did now I’m not sure about that but it’s looking good anyway.”