Citroën has had an excellent start of the 2014 season, taking four wins out of the first four races in Marrakech and Paul Ricard, but no doubt that the most acclaimed hero at the next round at the Hungaroring will be … Norbert Michelisz. The 29-year-old from Mohács is one of the reasons why tens of thousands of people flock every year to the track in the outskirts of Budapest. ‘Norbi’ himself cannot explain why he is so popular at home:“When I first saw, in 2011, the kind of crowds coming to support me, I was completely flabbergasted. It was certainly one of the most emotional moments in my life. I do feel all this support and love every time at the Hungaroring, it is something that I cannot explain, but that makes me very happy. Every year, I can’t wait to get to my home race!”
This year, it may prove more difficult for ‘Norbi’ to repeat success at home, as he did in 2012, but he’ll try:“It is going to be more challenging. It has been a tough start of the season, in terms of performance, and we have a big task ahead to develop the new Honda. We want to progress as much as possible, be consistent and aim at the podium, but I can promise my fans I will give my utmost to reward them for their support.”
WTCC CARS TO DELIGHT FANS IN THE STREETS OF BUDAPEST
It has also become a traditional moment of the Hungaroring round: WTCC cars will again parade in the streets of downtown Budapest, for the delight of all fans. The demo laps will take place on Thursday 1st May between 2 and 5 pm in the Széchenyi Istvan area. The public will have the opportunity to cheer the Citroën carss of Sébastien Loeb, José María López and Yvan Muller, the Honda cars of Norbert Michelisz and Tiago Monteiro, the LADA of Michail Kozlovskiy, the Chevrolet of Gianni Morbidelli and the BMW of Pasquale Di Sabatino.
THE WTCC GETS ROYAL VISIT AT PAUL RICARD
One of the highlights of the weekend at the Circuit Paul Ricard was the visit, on Saturday afternoon, of the His Serene Highness Albert II, the reigning Prince of Monaco. A well-known motorsports fan, the Prince had been invited at the initiative of his country-fellow Daniel Elena, the co-driver of Sébastien Loeb in his rallying times. His Serene Highness witnessed the end of the qualifying session, tested the Citroën C-Elysée as passenger of Sébastien Loeb and received as gift from Citroën a show car of the Citroën DS3 WRC that shone so many times in the Rally of Monte-Carlo and will now enrich the collection of the Automobile Museum of the Principality.
HURRAH FOR THE LOGISTICS’ BOYS AND GIRLS!
The WTCC calendar is full of logistics challenge, but this time, the concerned teams had really to work against the clock to perform a true ‘tour de force’: dismantling everything in Marrakech on Sunday evening, travel Northwards to Le Castellet (crossing the Gibraltar straight and all Spain) and setting-up everything again at the Ricard to be ready for ‘show time’ on Friday morning! But the crews of A&M 1704 and Think Tank achieved it brilliantly! A&M 1704 is the catering and hospitality provider that takes care of 750 m2 of the WTCC motorhome, the VIP club and the Yokohama and Valvoline hospitalities. These travel in 6 trucks and keep working up to 45 people, under the direction of Mario and Adriana Gandolfi and Marco Bianchi. Think Tank is the service provider for on-track banner implementation and paddock branding, which travel to all events together with FIA, WTCC and MST (time-keeping) material in 3 trucks. Manfred Forstner and Josef Lanziger head a team of 15 people that has, among other things, to deploy at every time the equivalent of 1.5 linear km of banners…
TARQUINI AND MONTEIRO PAY TRIBUTE TO ‘GRAND-MA’
She stood proudly during the entire Paul Ricard weekend in the Honda hospitality: ‘she’ is a Honda Civic SB2 Racing (model year 1978) that has recently being completely restored by a group of friends, mainly retired motorsports journalists and Honda France employees. The car is a genuine racing version of the first generation of Civic models launched in 1972. With its 65 hp per only 630 kgs of weight, the car is a little ‘bomb’ that now takes part to historic races. Today’s Honda WTCC drivers, Gabriele Tarquini and Tiago Monteiro, duly paid their respects to the venerable lady!