Season recap: WTCR Race of Malaysia
Norbert Michelisz became the new King of the WTCR after the 2019 season ended with a thrilling super-finale at the inaugural Races of Malaysia, which featured dramatic action on two and four wheels.
As well as the three highly-charged and dramatic counters that made up the WTCR / OSCARO season decider, the event also included the 8 Hours of Sepang, round two of the FIM Endurance World Championship for motorbikes.
But while YART Yamaha celebrated success on two wheels, it was Hungarian Michelisz who celebrated most on four after his title win on the back of a Race 1 victory and points finishes in races two and three, which were won by Esteban Guerrieri and Johan Kristoffersson respectively.
Guerrieri charged through from ninth to first on the opening lap of Race 2 to keep his title hopes alive by cutting Michelisz’s advantage to 10 points with one race left, which ended in a sensational victory for Kristoffersson – from a staggering P22 on the grid.
SLR Volkswagen driver Kristoffersson prevailed after a jaw-dropping four-way fight for the win, which ultimately cost Guerrieri his shot at the WTCR / OSCARO title. Over the opening laps, the destiny of the title swung between Guerrieri and Michelisz almost by the corner, only for the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport Honda to lose power with a suspected blocked radiator after contact with Azcona forced a trip across the grass in the slippery conditions.
“First of all, I would honestly like to congratulate Esteban because his performances in Race 2 and Race 3 today were unbelievably strong,” said BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse driver Michelisz. “It was a very tough fight, we were going flat out. He had some technical issues and so did I. Before Race 3 it looked like I wouldn’t even start the race. But in the end with the car working at 90 per cent I managed to do the start – and in the end it’s unbelievable. It’s just a huge relief after a long season. We didn’t start off very good, but the second part of the season made up for that. Taking the championship is something I’ve been hoping for a couple of years now.
“It’s pretty difficult to describe all the emotions going through my body now. But the most important thing is to say a huge thank you to my family, to the team and all the Hungarian people who have been supporting me for a bit more than 10 years now.
“A bit more than 10 years ago I was still playing computer games and hoping to start a professional career. In the end I managed to do that. So a huge thank you to everyone. It’s just unbelievable.”
ROUNDS 28-30: WTCR RACE OF MALAYSIA, 12-15 DECEMBER 2019
DHL Pole Position Race 1: Norbert Michelisz (HUN) Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 1 winner: Norbert Michelisz (HUN) Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 1 fastest lap: João Paulo de Oliveira (BRA) Honda Civic Type R TCR
DHL Pole Position Race 2: Ma Qinghua (CHN) Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR
Race 2 winner: Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
Race 2 fastest lap: Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
DHL Pole Position Race 3: Norbert Michelisz (HUN) Hyundai i30 N TCR
Race 3 winner: Johan Kristoffersson (SWE) Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR
Race 3 fastest lap: Esteban Guerrieri (ARG) Honda Civic Type R TCR
TAG Heuer Best Lap Trophy: João Paulo de Oliveira (BRA) Honda Civic Type R TCR
TAG Heuer Most Valuable Driver: Norbert Michelisz (HUN) Hyundai i30 N TCR