FIA WTCC JVCKENWOOD Race of Macau Suncity Group Macau Guia Race
16-19 November 2017, FIA World Touring Car Championship, Rounds 17 and 18 of 20
Media Centre, Circuito da Guia, Macau, 11h45, 19 November
Rob Huff, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, first position, WTCC Trophy winner
Norbert Michelisz, Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team, second position
Tom Chilton, Sébastien Loeb Racing, WTCC Trophy, third position
Dominik Greiner, ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport, winning team representative
Let’s start with Rob Huff, a new record of nine Macau wins after what looked like a very difficult race in those conditions. Can you just explain what it was like out there and how pleased are you with this victory?
First of all this is for my ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team. At midnight last night we weren’t going to be racing today pretty much but the boys did just the most amazing job to fix the car. It’s just testament to everything they’ve done this year. We’ve had some rotten luck but Macau has always been good to me, it’s always been lucky for me and this weekend it’s been lucky for the team in the Main Race so huge, huge thanks to them. Nine wins in Macau… I’m a bit blown away myself by that. To be the most winning driver ever is something special. I don’t know what it is with this place, it just seems to work, we seem to get very luck here, maybe it’s because I stay out of the casinos and keep my luck on track. The first two laps were so, so difficult. I’ve raced here for 14 years now and that’s only the second or third time we’ve had a wet session and we’ve never had a wet race. I was the first guy to arrive in every corner. Norbi was very kind with me for the first couple of laps braking into Lisboa. He’s got a championship to think about and he was thinking about that so thanks to Norbi for being very kind. And I saw Tom putting some pressure on him, which helped me so well done Tom. It’s just an amazing day.
Turning next to Dominik Greiner, Team Manager of ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport. The team’s first win in the WTCC since 2014, a great achievement but as Rob said a lot of hard work was required to get here. Just explain the damage and what work had to be done overnight?
There was plenty of damage yesterday. When Rob reported on-track we were thinking only the better things and luckily it was not too bad but we had to work until three in the morning so big, big thanks to the boys who worked hard all season but especially this weekend. It’s the first victory for us since 2014 and the boys deserve it.
Turning next to Norbert Michelisz from the Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team. Now second place is almost like a victory after you moved to within 6.5 points of Thed Björk in the championship standings with two races to go. How significant is this moment?
First of all, I have to say a huge thank you to the team because after yesterday we were pretty much in the same position as Rob except we had two cars with damage and the boys were not sleeping so I have to say thank you to them for the amazing car today. I was worried to be honest yesterday night with me being on the starting grid but in the end we made it and, yeah, speaking about the race I really tried to attack. I expected us to be stronger in the wet. When there was some water on the circuit I think I had a slightly faster package than Rob but in the end thinking about yesterday I was not confident enough to risk something happening again and this made a difference. Congrats to Rob, it’s really amazing what he does here. I don’t think it’s luck, it’s a skill around here. To do this one time around here maybe you have luck but to do this nine times is just an amazing achievement so well done. Thinking about the championship 6.5 points means it’s all up for grabs in Qatar and I’m confident. We were strong there last year and I will really try to do my best not to do any mistakes to get the most out of myself and the car. And in the end if it works out for sure I’ll be really happy. But the most important thing is to have the feeling that I’ve done everything [I can] and this is my goal.
Turning next to Tom Chilton from Sébastien Loeb Racing. Talk us through your great battle with Esteban Guerrieri - from looking at the TV pictures was there a problem for you that allowed him to get ahead?
First of all, congratulations to Rob. Nine wins around here feels like you’re nine times champion, a bit like my boss Sébastien Loeb, he’s nine times world rally champion. It’s a very special place this circuit and I want to say thank you very much to my team Sébastien Loeb Racing. They’ve done a fantastic job this weekend, Mehdi won the first race. I know I didn’t win the last one but I got fastest lap on the last lap so I’m happy about that. But what happened to Esteban in the end I think is karma actually because I think Honda told him to back me up at the hairpin every single lap. I was losing three seconds at the hairpin every single lap and me an Norbi caught him every single lap back up to the hairpin and actually I’m quite happy he made a mistake. He tried braking about 11 metres too late and fully on the right-hand side and came off the rubber and for some reason around this circuit the rubber line has far more grip than off line and he made a mistake. I took maximum opportunity and made sure he didn’t come back in front of me for the hairpin where he’d been holding me up for the last five laps. When he overtook me it was on lap six I think, I did a really good line into the last corner, Norbi tried going too wide, lost a lot of pace and I saw this opportunity for second place. It was just like gleaming in my eyes, I’m so much faster up the straight. He kept defending to the right to make sure I didn’t go right so I went left and he closed the door on me and it made turn one very tight. I soon realised when I turned in I was off the rubbery line with no grip. I was looking at the barrier on the outside thinking I was going to crash but the inside of a fifth-gear corner in the wet because a fourth-gear corner and very slow. Guerrieri did the wide line from behind, did the switchback and he overtook me up the straight. It didn’t matter which way I was going to go. He just had so much more speed up the straight and passed me before Mandarin. I was a sitting duck, fuming because I was faster than both of the guys in front of me but I’m happy I got back past one of them.
Turning back to Rob Huff, now it’s been 595 days since your last official win in the WTCC and what a great place to do that. What does this mean for your confidence going forward because you’ve got another big weekend next weekend in China with another potential title to win?
First of all we’re going to have one hell of a big party tonight, that’s first on the check list. Then next week it’s the final round of the China Touring Cars in Shanghai. We’re going there leading the championship, which isn’t quite what we expected but a very pleasant surprise and of course we’ll do our best. We’ve got the heaviest car on the grid, 1330 kilos and it’s going to be tough but first things first a big party in Macau tonight.
I just want to say congratulations to Norbi for a fantastic job, I was going on about Rob but I never said anything about you. You’ve done a great job this weekend mate and I’m very happy for you but gutted I couldn’t get past you at turn one.
Questions from the floor:
To Norbert Michelisz from Pietro Casillo, TouringCarTimes.com (Sweden): Norbi, I know you’ve not had too much time to think about Qatar but for now what are your feelings on the title and who do you think has more to lose?
It’s difficult because I made a mistake thinking too much about the championship in the first few races and I made not always the right decisions in terms of attacking and defending. After the third or fourth race weekend I said it’s always one thing in every event and I want to maximise my possibilities to score points. It was working out pretty good and it would not make sense to change that. Of course it’s getting more and more difficult the closer we get to the last right but I really try not to think about the championship. Like I said before to Richard, the most important thing is to have the feeling you have done everything possible to be there and in the end if you win the championship of course I’ll be really happy but the most important thing is to do my best.
To Norbert Michelisz from Jack Cozens, Autosport/Autosport.com (United Kingdom): Norbi, you were obviously close to Rob after the first couple of laps but then you began to lose some time in the final sector was that safe driving or something else?
Not really, I tried to do my best to overtake him. I tried for about three laps and on one lap I was very close to the barrier on the exit of the first corner and I just decided to back off. I had more speed in the first sector, this was the target before the race. There was a chance but in the end, like I told you, I wanted to have the title and when I got close to the barrier I said to myself it’s important to bring the car home. If you have conditions like this and a circuit like Macau in one blink of an eye you can have a huge accident and I decided to back off because I knew I had the car to stay in front of Tom and the target was not to do any mistakes.
To Rob Huff from Jean-Luc Taillade, Fortylaps.com (France): Rob, you’ve won here with four manufacturers so which new brand do you expect to try?
I don’t know, you tell me who’s coming and I will see. Next year we don’t fully understand everything that’s going to be happening but for now I’m just going to enjoy nine victories in Macau with four different manufacturers as you say.
Which is the best one you’ve driven?
The hardest race I’ve driven is today but one of my proudest moments is 2011 when I won both races with the reverse grid as well. Unfortunately, we just missed the championship to Yvan by three points but to get two victories in one day with the reverse grid was pretty special. Today, to finally take the most ever wins, whether it be on two or four wheels is particularly specia