Touring Car Racing World Tour

Michelisz maintains his lead in the drivers’ standings

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse consolidates its position after third event

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse consolidates its position after third event

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse tightened its grip on the Kumho FIA TCR World Tour despite a tough first weekend racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the USA.

The Italy-based outfit continues to lead the Drivers’ and Teams’ championships, with defending champion Norbert Michelisz taking a second and fifth place from the two races to leave him 22 points clear of Yann Ehrlacher. Meanwhile, Mikel Azcona moved up to third in the points and is just two behind Ehrlacher, as Néstor Girolami delivered solid performances to score in both races.

Azcona and Michelisz locked out the front row for Race 1 that took place early on Saturday morning, the Spaniard grabbing his first pole position of the season at the green and pleasant circuit that featured a newly laid track surface. Azcona stormed into an early lead, but Thed Björk’s Lynk & Co got the drop on Michelisz at the start to run second. By lap nine, Azcona held a 2.1sec advantage and looked on course for his first win of the season, only for a problem with his Elantra N TCR’s front anti-roll bar to intervene. Soon the gap shrunk as Björk and Michelisz closed in to set up a nail-biting conclusion.

The leader put up a valiant defence, but on lap 15 of 17 Björk slid up the inside of Azcona’s Elantra N TCR at Turn 9 and took a decisive lead. Now Michelisz loomed in Azcona’s mirrors and they switched positions on the final lap. Meanwhile, Girolami charged from sixth on the grid to complete a Hyundai three-car 2-3-4 train, passing Ma Qing Hua’s Lynk & Co at the start of lap three, before picking off Esteban Guerrieri’s Honda.

The reverse grid Race 2 at the end of the day proved action-packed. But BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse’s trio of drivers kept out of trouble during frenetic battles at the climax of the weekend. Azcona rose from 10th on the grid to finish a fine fourth, Michelisz started ninth and finished fifth, while Girolami dropped places from fifth but still scored in eighth place.

Bryan Herta Autosport bolstered Hyundai’s Kumho FIA TCR World Tour presence in Mid-Ohio, with reigning IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge champion Harry Gottsacker and Mark Wilkins making guest appearances. The pair got the better of Marco Butti’s Honda in Race 1, Wilkins heading Gottsacker to finish 10th and 11th. But they were both forced out of Race 2 mid-way through the finale.

The Kumho FIA TCR World Tour heads next to Brazil where the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, Interlagos in Sao Paulo hosts the action on July 19-21.

Hyundai Motorsport Circuit Racing Project Manager Julien Moncet said:

“It’s always challenging for the team and the drivers to come to a new place such as Mid-Ohio. Yesterday we nailed it with the set-up and were very fast in practice and qualifying to take the front row for Race 1, so we were quite optimistic for today. Obviously it didn’t quite go to plan for the first race, but it was still pretty good. Mikel had the pace to win, unfortunately he had a technical issue. All in all, 2-3-4 was a good result, even if we missed the win. And the second race was, let’s say, quite interesting. We will look at the data and try to understand because with our pace we could have had a better result this weekend. We will try to keep positive, especially as we have increased our lead in both championships. But I wanted more!”

Driver Notes: #196 Mikel Azcona (ESP), Hyundai Elantra N TCR

  • Spaniard takes his first pole of 2024 but anti-roll bar problem drops him to third in Race 1
  • Drives with his head in Race 2 to rise from 10th to fourth as first Elantra N TCR home

Azcona said: “Race 1 was not easy. Given the issue I had from the middle of the race I am very happy to have finished on the podium because I was thinking I was going to retire. I could hear this strange noise and the car balance was really bad, so something broke. When I realised that I started to manage the car because I didn’t want a DNF. It was very hard to defend against Björk, I was doing my best. I was thinking to finish P2, but the team told me to give up the position. Overall, a crazy and challenging weekend, especially the second race. It was probably the toughest of the season so far in terms of fights and battles. The track conditions were tricky aswell and it’s very difficult to overtake at this track. I got a good start, then Esteban Guerrieri was very fast. I overtook him but he came back past. Then I decided to follow him and that probably gave me a few positions because he was opening the door in front of me. In the end, P4 means a lot. Good points for the championship.”

Driver Notes: #105 Norbert Michelisz (HUN), Hyundai Elantra N TCR

  • Defending Kumho FIA TCR World Tour champion starts and finishes Race 1 in second
  • Survives the drama in Race 2 to add vital points to his tally in fifth

Michelisz said: “It was a nice weekend, I really enjoyed driving on this circuit. We collected a lot of points. My start for Race 1 was quite bad so I immediately lost a position. The blue cars were quite fast, they improved a lot compared to yesterday. But from the beginning of the race I felt strong, the car began to come alive. Finishing second is OK. I feel sorry for the Matador [Azcona], he deserved a win. But sometimes it’s like this. In Race 2 we stayed out of trouble, so I’m happy. Looking at the incidents it could have been much worse, it would have been easy to be caught up. We cannot afford not to score.”

Driver Notes: #129 Néstor Girolami (ARG), Hyundai Elantra N TCR

  • Argentinian battles past two rivals to complete Hyundai 2-3-4 in Race 1
  • New-for-2024 team recruit delivers more points despite a challenging Race 2

Girolami said: “It was a good Race 1 from my side, I maximised the points that were available, coming up from sixth to fourth. I’m sorry for Mikel because he had a problem. Norbi and Mikel did a very good job trying to help each other and maximising the team result. It was a pretty difficult Race 2, we lacked speed but it Is what it is and this time a good result was not on our side.”


Recent TCR World Tour News

Latest Video

You might also be interested in

Become a Pro

Inside WRC

The FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is the undisputed pinnacle of the sport, where the world’s best drivers and their co-drivers vie for glory.


Behind the scenes

Inside the factory

Welcome to a behind-the-scenes tour of Hyundai Motorsport GmbH. Here you will find a short overview of our main departments.

Have a look

Our History

What we do

Established on 19 December 2012, Hyundai Motorsport GmbH (HMSG) is responsible for Hyundai’s global motorsport activities.

Discover now