Touring Car Racing World Tour

Perfect start of a season with a double race victory at Vallelunga

Norbert Michelisz claimed Race 1 spoils before Néstor Girolami lands Race 2 win

Norbert Michelisz claimed Race 1 spoils before Néstor Girolami lands Race 2 win

Norbert Michelisz and team newcomer Néstor Girolami got BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse’s 2024 Kumho FIA TCR World Tour campaign off to a sensational start with a double victory in Italy.

At the same Vallelunga track where the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing-supported outfit recorded a 1-2 finish last season, polesitter Michelisz overcame a tricky start in damp conditions to overtake Yann Ehrlacher and forge ahead to the Race 1 win – and begin his TCR World Tour title defence in impressive fashion.

Experienced TCR campaigner Girolami, who was making his debut in Hyundai Motorsport-built machinery, put the disappointment of a stall at the start of Race 1 behind him to lead from the front in Race 2 for a resounding victory during a strong first competitive appearance for the new-look Hyundai Elantra N TCR.

Team-mate and 2022 FIA WTCR winner Mikel Azcona made his mark in both races with a pair of fourth place finishes. He was promoted to fourth in Race 1 after Marco Butti was penalised for contact between the pair and again benefitted from a penalty – this time for Esteban Guerrieri – to take the same result in Race 2

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse’s success at its home event represented the best start to a season for the team and the third time that Hyundai Motorsport customers have claimed a clean sweep of victories, following previous results in Ningbo in 2018 and Bahrain in 2022.

Hyundai Motorsport Circuit Racing Project Manager Julien Moncet said: “It was a perfect weekend because, already in qualifying Norbi was in pole position and we managed to get Néstor in tenth position on the reverse grid for Race 2. Yesterday was a tough race, Norbi had a difficult launch because he was on the damp side of the track but he recovered and kept the lead to the end. Then today we confirmed the results with Néstor starting first and doing an incredible race, despite the safety car interventions. It was a very encouraging weekend and the first time we ran the new-look Elantra N TCR in the World Tour. We have shown the potential of the car and now we will prepare for the next race in Marrakech with renewed confidence.”

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

  • 2022 FIA WTCR winner battles to fourth place in Race 1 after contact from rival
  • Repeat result in Race 2 completes consistent weekend for Spanish racer

Azcona said: “It was a very challenging start in Race 1 with mixed conditions. Unfortunately, I had a problem at the start which cost me a couple of positions and then there was the hit from [Marco] Butti. I started to recover, the pace was there and the car was working nice. I had some moments with [Thed] Björk when he was defending probably too much in my opinion, but I was able to overtake him and I was happy with the points. Race 2 was a bit like a survival race, but with such a long way to go in the season it was good to bring the points home. It’s a positive start to the year so I am happy.”

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

  • Reigning World Tour champion gets perfect title defence start with Race 1 victory
  • Sixth place in Race 2 leaves the Hungarian with the Driver points leading head to Round 2

Michelisz said: “I managed a decent start in Race 1 even though my grid position was in the shade with a lot of water on the track. Yann [Ehrlacher] did a very good start and overtook me but I felt strong and was able to follow him. I studied his lines and then waited to make my move and the car was just great. Then I was pushing all the way because he started to close the gap. I did my best and it was a very nice way to start the season. Starting from P10 the target had to be to score points, which we managed to achieve. This doesn’t mean it was an easy race because we had two safety car interventions because of cars crashing so I did my best to stay out of trouble. I managed to achieve that and, in the end, I’m very happy with the result and the points.”

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

  • Argentinian overcomes Race 1 stalled start to claim tenth place
  • Girolami then claims lights-to-flag victory in Race 2 on debut for BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse

Girolami said: “I was very sad not to do a proper start in Race 1 because we practised a lot, but I had massive wheelspin – we need to look at the data. But I managed to come back and finish P10 in the same place I started. It was damage limitation for us. Race 2 was really nice. I knew how important the start was but from there on I had to push a lot, especially after every safety car. I managed to make a gap of two seconds. The car was very good, the team did a great job and I felt I had the control of the race.”


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