RACE 3 PRESS CONFERENCE
FIA WTCR RACE OF SLOVAKIA
Slovakia Ring, 13-15 July 2018
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO, Rounds 16-18 of 30
Media Centre, Slovakia Ring, 13h00, Sunday 15 July
Norbert Michelisz, BRC Racing Team, first position Race 3
Aurélien Comte, DG Sport Compétition, second position, Race 3
Frédéric Vervisch, Audi Sport Team Comtoyou, third position, Race 3
Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Racing Team, first position Race 2
Mato Homola, DG Sport Compétition, leading local driver
Finally, the first victory of the season for you, Norbi. What a relief that must be.
I’ve been waiting for this for some races now. The weekend didn’t start the way we wanted. The feeling with the car was quite good, but not having the proper starting position for the first race made me really disappointed. But we managed to turn it around with the second qualifying and the third race today. I’m really happy and there’s a big relief from my side. Having won the first race, there is some pressure now off my shoulders and I really hope this is the start of a turnaround for me in terms of the championship fight. There have been a lot of ups and downs throughout the season, but going into the summer break with a boost I have from the atmosphere from this race makes me happy.
We’ve seen you on the DHL Pole Position before, but not quite with the start you needed. Today that was different. Talk us through your start and the opening laps.
I was focused on the start because this is a circuit where you have long acceleration to the first corner, so if you don’t have your start right it can cost you a lot of places. Starting from first you always try to do your best, and on a circuit like this it’s even more so. My start was good and I was able to make the cut on Aurélien and then I realised after getting out of Turn 1 now everything was in my hands. I was pushing like crazy throughout the race because Aurélien has a really good pace. I knew I had to make a gap and then he was driving really well throughout the race because he didn’t fall back, he managed to keep the same distance, so it wasn’t easy.
You celebrated with your family. That must have been a special moment.
Yes, Mira was there in Hungary, but Johanna wasn’t since Qatar last year. It’s always a huge help having them there, having the possibility to give a kiss or give a hug is something amazing. I’m still learning how to be a good father and still trying to cope with all these emotions, but these are wonderful things.
Aurélien, congratulations on a fantastic result, second here in Slovakia.
I am really happy. Qualifying was really strong, then I struggled in Race 1 and 2. We made some changes and we had a really good car in the race.
Frédéric, you had a great race with a lot of pressure. Talk us through that battle with Thed Björk and that pass into Turn 1 on the last lap.
I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it because I was so slow. I struggled there the whole weekend with race pace. The first two or three laps were ok, but then I would drop. I was sure people thought I was it on purpose, to drive so slow, but the car cannot handle more. And of course I had really experienced drivers behind me who know all the tricks, and I tried as hard as possible. The advantage of our car is we have good straight line speed, so this helps. I’m very happy, it feels like a victory, one of the best races I’ve had because the fight was so hard.
Mato, this was not the Slovakia weekend you had been hoping for. Just explain what happened.
Yeah, it was really bad. It’s very hard to be in this condition in the press conference because I don’t want to be here like that. After Vila Real I felt ok. We found a set-up and the pace, but I came here and suddenly we were struggling from the beginning and we tried to change a lot but it was still the same. When you compare with Aurélien who was going really faster than me in the same car, it’s really frustrating. When I am the slowest car on the track, what can you do? We tried also to change something before Race 3 and it was ok. We found several technical things after Zandvoort where I was really slow as well, so I don’t know if it’s the same case. I was confident in the car at Vila Real, and then came to my home track it’s really frustrating. We have the summer break now and I will try to focus for the next races which will be new for many of us, and I will try to be faster again.
It must please you that the Slovakia Ring can put on such a great event with so many supporters.
It was only a short time to promote this event and other people come here from Hungary to support Norbi, and it’s a big motor sport event in Slovakia. With so many fans, I am sorry to have a weekend like this from my side, but I did my best. It was really nice for them to say ‘it’s ok we support you in this situation’. It’s really nice that so many people came and next year I hope it will be even bigger. Thank you to everyone from Slovakia.
Gabriele, we’ll start with the good news: your fourth victory of the season yesterday. Give us a summary of that race.
Yesterday was a fantastic start. It was the key of the win. The track is quite difficult to overtake, and although our car is fast it is quite slow on the straight. In the first race I was behind Vernay and it was almost impossible to overtake, so I tried to do my best and the start was fortunately much better than Race 1. I was able to take the lead and after two laps I was managing the pace.
But what happened today on that opening lap and how frustrating is it with the championship situation?
I was in the middle of the pack and it is always difficult to manage the distance and the pace. There was a big group of cars at Turn 2, Lessennes was inside and it was almost spun sideways at a very fast corner. Some other cars catch him from behind and Iw as pushed just before braking and I touched his car and he went into two other cars, and the car was damaged.
Q (Peter Vamosi, Racingline, Hungary):
Norbi, this is the first time high-ranked FIA series have merged, with the trucks and the WTCR together. Has it been good and could we have the same in Hungary?
I always wanted to visit a truck race, but I’ve never been able to that in Hungary. Because of that I was really happy when I heard the news that first of all we were coming to Slovakia and then as a guest of the truck racing championship. I think it’s something really good and if possible we should do it more often. As a fan, as a spectator, having a crowded race weekend with qualifty race series is always very nice. I watched the first truck race from the grandstand and it was an amazing atmosphere. So yes, why not? But it’s not up to me. I really hope we will have races like this in the future.
Q (Medhi Casaurang-Vergez, AUTOhebdo, France):
A question for Norbi and Gabriele: In Hungary there was team orders between you. Now that Norbi is coming back into the title fight will it be the same again.
We can have a point in the season where if one of us is clearly ahead of the other… I have a really good relationship with Gabriele. If I’m in a position to be able to help him if things are clear then I’m really happy to do so. We haven’t talked about this, honestly, in the team yet, but you can see how close the championship fight is.
To me it is the same. I’m more than pleased to help Norbi to win the title. My preference is myself, but if somebody else must win the title I prefer it to be this man. In Hungary it was not team orders, it was just an agreement between drivers. We speak before the race and we respect what we decide before the race. You cannot make team orders at the beginning of a season, there is not the first driver and the second driver, this is very stupid. Now you can decide in races like this who will be your main driver and your second driver, but in the team there is not a first driver and a second driver. There is one old driver and one young driver who is Norbi! But we have the same opportunity to score points and wins because this gives us more opportunity to win the drivers’ title and the teams’ title.
Q (Neil Hudson, Touringcartimes, Sweden):
A question to Fred: That battle was fantastic. The Alfa and the Hyundai were probably the fastest cars around this track and your Audi didn’t have the pace…
Yes, as I said, this feels like a victory, better than the Nurburgring or a victory in another series. It’s fantastic to start in front and finish the job because that is what we all want. But if you are not in a position like for me starting P7, then having a good start and being where I should not be, let’s say, in terms of pace, and I know these guys are so experienced and know all the tricks… it’s a really nice feeling. I was sure I wouldn’t make it. Ok, just try everything I can. I knew if one would pass me everyone would start to pass me. The feeling is great and I’m really happy with that.
Q (Oliver Kovats, Braking News Motorsport, Hungary):
A question to Norbi: In the past did you have any moment when you thought the championship title was out of reach and how are you looking forward now to the next rounds after this victory?
After the experience last year, I think it was after the third or fourth race weekend, I said ‘ok, now the championship is gone’. But everything turned around in two race weekends. I said to myself never give up. The first part of this season wasn’t like I expected, it was not ideal. But with the experience of last year I think I am more tough in managing difficult things or bad luck or whatever you want to call it. I’m still ready to fight until I have no mathematical possibility to win the championship.
More on OSCARO: wtcr.oscaro.com