FIA WTCR Race of Portugal WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 2019 Rounds 16-18 of 30, Circuito Internacional de Vila
RACE 1 PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
Media Centre, Circuito Internacional de Vila Real, 16h15, Saturday 6 July 2019
In attendance: Norbert Michelisz, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, first position Yann Erhlacher, Cyan Performance Lynk & Co, second position Augusto Farfus, BRC Hyundai N LUKOIL Racing Team, third position Tiago Monteiro, KCMG
Q: Norbi, that was a very impressive drive from the DHL Pole Position. Just explain how you made it look so easy.
NM: Yes, the day started like dream with qualifying and here of course you have the inside starting from the first place, so I was really focused on the start. I think we were quite equal with Augusto and Yann and this was already 50 per cent of the job. Then I have to say we did a fantastic team job and I’m really grateful to Augusto. I managed to pull a gap, I was pushing 100 per cent, not leaving anything on the table and fortunately the gap was big enough on lap three to do the joker lap. I don’t want to say it was an easy race. After Yann did the joker and overtook Augusto I really had to push. There was one or two laps where I tried to slow down a bit, but then I saw he was taking big chunks out of the gap, so I was pushing again. So it wasn’t an easy race, but I’m incredibly happy.
Q: It’s not just your second race win of the season, it’s also significant for the #RoadToMalaysia because you have closed the points gap to Esteban Guerrieri to just 15 points. That’s a big achievement, too.
NM: Yes, my target is to extract anything out of my possibilities. For sure we will not be in position like this every race weekend, but if you are in this position you need to make the most out of it. I think today I also was a bit lucky. I don’t know what happened to Esteban in qualifying, but for sure 15 points is better than 45, but tomorrow is another day and let’s wait and see.
Q: Yann, as Norbi mentioned, the ‘joker’ lap played a part in your position. Just explain your strategy and how pleased you must have felt when you pulled that move off.
YE: First of all, congratulations to Norbi and Augusto. It was not a strategy, it was more like let’s see how it goes. They were doing quite a good team job, it was a clever strategy and I was held up a little bit at the beginning, so I managed to save my tyres and actually when Augusto dived in the team said ‘OK, go to ‘joker’ now’. And I said OK, I take my only chance to overtake him because
it is quite narrow and difficult [here] and Augusto is not a rookie, so overtaking him is not an easy job. So I knew my only way was to undercut with the joker lap and we rejoined almost side by side, so it was quite tricky, and we managed to jump one position. I’m really happy for Cyan Racing, for Lynk & Co as well because it looks like we are doing a good weekend, but it’s not an easy one at all. We had to work quite hard in quali to put a lap together, so I’m really pleased now to be here on the podium, I’m really, really happy and grateful to the team and Lynk & Co.
Q: Augusto, having not scored a podium all season it’s now two in two races, and here at Vila Real where you are a newcomer. Just explain your race because it looked like you were supporting Norbi in those opening laps.
AF: Norbi had a good start and has shown amazing pace thought the whole weekend, so honestly look to his championship position to his speed. He deserved his victory and drove an amazing race. He had better tyres at the start of the race than me as well so he was able to pull a gap and the target was to give him all the chances to execute the job in the best way. Still, you have to perform, which he did. So very pleased. I drove into the joker together with him and just by a little bit Yann did a great lap to undercut me, but it’s OK. Of course P2 would have been better than P3, but I can be extremely happy with my season progression. All the races have been all the way up, so now over half way through the season I have to thank all the boys at BRC Hyundai customer racing for all their support and help, and I go home tonight with a great smile and come back tomorrow for much more.
Q: Tiago, you not being here last year made it not quite right and it’s great to see you back racing again. But this wasn’t the race you would have been looking for at the start of the weekend, was it?
TM: Exactly, the final result isn’t what I was looking for, but this is racing. What I’m happy about is to be back and to be here fighting the boys, who I congratulate and were amazingly fast. It’s always a challenge to drive here and we were talking before, to put a lap together without mistakes and pushing really hard is a big challenge. So I was happy overall, even though we ended up P15. We knew it could have been a bit better, but we’ve been struggling a lot since Marrakech, so we’re gradually coming back and I’m happy with the work we have done with KCMG to find solutions, because we were really struggling. So step by step we’re coming back and at such a hard track I was happy to be there in a group really and do something good. The race was going very well, the pace in the race was even better and we keep discovering stuff which is great. We were looking at the next lap to take the ‘joker’ and gain even more positions, and then Gabriele exiting the ‘joker’ lap overshot his braking, he went straight and I had nowhere to go. This is racing, it’s a street track and a lot of things can happen. We saw that last year. But I’m so grateful to be here, with all this amazing public support. And not having driven last year gives you a lot of extra motivation to come back. I’m enjoying every moment I can.
Q: What can we see from you tomorrow, after this experience?
TM: I think everybody gets confident and improves a little bit, but I honestly think we have a bigger step to do, so hopefully we can improve. I’m quite motivated and confident with the car now compared to others, so I’m very positive about tomorrow. But we’ll see.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR:
Q: António Rodrigues (Agência Lusa): To the Hyundai guys, do you believe the height of the car benefits you at this track?
AF: Honestly no. For a race car you try to go as low as possible. It brings grip, it brings a better balance, so it does improve everything. Of course at a street circuit the ride height is less important, but I’m sure if you allowed us to go lower everyone in the field would probably take this. But we know these are the rules and we work hard to optimise the package. I strongly believe that we are probably not the fastest car, but as you have seen in qualifying we have managed to put all our cars in there and this is the result of great team work.