Thu 21 Sep 2023

World Touring Car star Michelisz picks ERC to make childhood dream come true

Hungary’s most successful racing driver will transfer his skills from the circuits of the world to the stages of the FIA European Rally Championship when he contests his home round of the ERC next month.

The winner of the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup in 2019 will make his rallying debut on Rally Hungary from 6- 8 October, lining up in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2 backed by OMV Hungária Kft.

Michelisz’s participation on the ERC season decider will be the realisation of a childhood dream but will also represent a step into the unknown. The 39-year-old’s experience in rallying is limited to a handful of demo runs although he will test ahead of the Nyíregyháza-based event, which uses challenging sealed-surface stages in and around the Zemplén Hills in north-east Hungary.

“My first motorsport experiences are connected to rally races around Pécs, I had very vivid childhood memories of the Mecsek Rallye,” said Michelisz, who is known by his fans as ‘Norbi’. “I fell in love with racing in rallies, and if I had been asked what type of racing driver I wanted to be, I would have definitely said rally driver. That life brought me to circuit racing was mainly due to my sim racing days, that helped me to get where I am now. But my affection to rally has remained, and now a childhood dream comes true.”

Michelisz races a Hyundai Elantra N TCR in the TCR World Tour and leads the standings by four points ahead of the season-deciding races in Australia and Macau in November. He has received special permission from Hyundai Motorsport to contest Rally Hungary.

“I was thinking a lot in the past couple of years, and I always convinced myself why the timing was not appropriate,” Michelisz said. ‘Now I have reached the point where I am more eager to experience it than I am cautious. There will never be a perfect time, I have to seize the moment. Now I managed to provide the conditions with the support of my sponsors, and I am very grateful to both OMV Hungária and Hyundai.

“I do not know the stages, I have tested the car only once around Pécs, which means very little experience. I have analysed many onboard camera footages, I have practised how to write the pacenote book, but even if I prepare day and night, I will know what I have been up to only in the race. Even an experienced rally racer can easily find himself in a difficult situation. I think it will be the biggest challenge of my career.”

In terms of his aims for Rally Hungary, Michelisz said: “My goal is to finish. As of the result, I am not planning anything in advance, because the ERC field is very strong. I have nice memories on racing in front of home crowd, but this will be different now from the Hungaroring. I am looking forward to the new experience.”

Róbert Tagai, who has experience co-driving in the FIA World Rally Championship and the Dakar and has also an ERC podium to his name, will partner Michelisz.

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