World touring car champion set for rally debut in ERC finale

World Touring Car Cup champion Norbert Michelisz will make his competitive rally debut at the final round of the European Rally Championship in October.

Norbert Michelisz

The 2019 WTCR champion and current TCR World Tour points leader will achieve a life long dream of competing in a rally at his home event, Rally Hungary from 6-8 October.

The factory Hyundai TCR driver will pilot a Hyundai i20 Rally2 car at the asphalt event, competing under a special license granted by Hyundai Motorsport. He will drive alongside experienced Hungarian co-driver Robert Tagai.

Michelisz will receive only one test day before taking part in the event although the 39-year-old has previously sampled rally cars.

Last year he piloted Hyundai’s WRC Rally1 car at Belgium’s Zolder Circuit as part of a car swap stunt involving factory Hyundai WRC driver Thierry Neuville and Michelisz’s Hyundai’s Veloster N ETCR touring car.

“My first motorsport experiences are connected to rally races around Pécs, I had very vivid childhood memories on Mecsek Rally” said Michelisz.

“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 closed circuit racing was mainly due to my sim racing days, that helped me to get here, where I am now. But my affection to rally has remained, and now a childhood dream comes true.

“I was thinking of it [going rallying] a lot in the past couple of years, and I always convinced myself why the timing was not appropriate.

“Now I have reached the point where I am more eager to experience it than I am cautious about the risks. There will never be a perfect time, I have to seize the moment.”

Norbert Michelisz

Norbert Michelisz

Photo by: MGR Images

Switching from circuit racing to rallying will provide a significant challenge that Michelisz admits will be the “biggest” of his career to date.

“I do not know the stages, I have tested the car only once around Pécs, which means very little experience” Michelisz explained.

“I have analysed many onboard camera footage, I have practised how to write the road book, but even if I prepare day and night, I will know where I am only in the race.

“Even an experienced rally racer can easily find himself in a difficult situation, so I have to manage the risk particularly well. I think it will be the biggest challenge of my career.

“My goal is to finish the race. As of the result, I am not planning anything in advance, because 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.”

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