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Michelisz announces BMW switch

Hungarian driver Norbert Michelisz will continue to race in the World Touring Car Championship this season, but will switch to BMW machinery from SEAT, his Zengo-Dension team confirmed today

The 26-year-old, who graduated to the WTCC last year as SEAT Leon EuroCup champion, finished the 2010 season on a high with a maiden victory in Macau.

He will now have an ex-Augusto Farfus BMW 320 TC, upgraded with the new 1.6-litre turbocharged engine at his disposal for 2011. Although BMW has withdrawn its factory team from the WTCC, it will still make some of its 320s available to customers, and Michelisz has managed to start a new partnership with BMW Group Hungary.

Michelisz, who has never raced a rear-wheel driven car before, said he hoped to challenge the frontrunners.

"It is a dream coming true, I'm very happy to race a BMW 320 TC this season," he said. "I will need to adjust my mind and driving style for the rear-wheel drive but I can't wait to race again.

"We have a lot work to do to get to know the car, but I'm confident we'll make a big step forward, especially if we'll be able to test the car ahead of the first race. As long as the circumstances allow it, I will try to take on the frontrunners."

Managing director of BMW Group Hungary, Henning Putzke added: "We are happy to support the team from the background with our contacts and know-how, both in logistics and with administrative issues. Norbert Michelisz is a great talent and we hope to see him more often on the podium in 2011, so that the world takes more notice of Hungarian motorsport."

The car will be prepared with the assistance of three times champion team RBM. But, in order "to gain more experience with the new technical package", Zengo-Dension will miss the first event of the WTCC season at Curitiba, joining the grid at the next round in Zolder.

"Only six or seven cars of this model are expected to be ready for the start of the season in total, so it's a huge success that such a small Hungarian outfit will get one of them," team boss Zoltan Zengo said. "We've made an enormous step towards realising our ultimate goals. We will have a competitive car, and I expect us to be amongst the frontrunners."

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