Touring Car Racing World Tour

Preview Kumho FIA TCR WT Mid-Ohio

Mikel Azcona, Néstor Girolami and Norbert Michelisz assemble for first international-level TCR event to take place in the USA

Mikel Azcona, Néstor Girolami and Norbert Michelisz assemble for first international-level TCR event to take place in the USA

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse will be Stateside this week when the Kumho FIA TCR World Tour stops off at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the third event of the season (June 6-7).

With two wins so far in 2024 for the new-look Elantra N TCR cars, hopes are high for Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing trio Mikel Azcona, Néstor Girolami and Norbert Michelisz. And those hopes have further increased due to the amount of compensation weight carried, which masked the team’s true pace in Marrakesh last month, being adjusted in accordance with the Kumho FIA TCR World Tour regulations.

Subject to official confirmation, Azcona and Michelisz won’t carry any success ballast at Mid-Ohio, although Girolami will be saddled with 30 kilograms, which is based on his points score from the Marrakesh weekend.

While the venue in Lexington, Ohio, is unchartered territory for BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse and its three drivers, it holds particular significance for Hyundai Motorsport after the Veloster N TCR and Elantra N TCR scored their first race wins on the famous track.

The two Kumho FIA TCR World Tour races take place on the same weekend as the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, in which Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai are multiple and reigning Drivers’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ champions.

BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse heads to Mid-Ohio on top of the Kumho FIA TCR World Tour Teams’ standings by a single point, with Michelisz leading the Drivers’ table in his bid for back-to-back titles. Argentina’s Girolami holds fourth position after four races, 15 points behind his Hungarian team-mate. Azcona, from Spain, is sixth in the rankings with a 28-point deficit to Michelisz to overcome.

Italy-based BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse is fielding the 2024 version of the Elantra N TCR in the Kumho FIA TCR World Tour. It reflects the latest facelift applied to the road-going Elantra N, which was launched in September 2023 and offers the benefit of improved front aerodynamics. The three Elantra N TCR cars sport the N Motorsport colours worn by the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Hyundai Motorsport Circuit Racing Project Leader Julien Moncet said:

“Mid-Ohio is a bit of an unknown in that BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse and our three drivers haven’t race there before. But there has been plenty of work behind the scenes to discover the track on the simulator. There have also been lots of dialogue with our colleagues at Bryan Herta Autosport in the USA. They have considerable experience of racing at Mid-Ohio and we appreciate being able to tap into their knowledge, a great example of the Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing network in action. Due to the compensation weight changes we can expect Mikel and Norbi to be much more competitive in Mid-Ohio. However, in saying that, the pace of the Hyundai Elantra N TCR was still quite okay in Marrakesh despite the extra weight, and this is encouraging.”

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

  • 2022 WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup winner is in fight-back mode after tough Marrakesh weekend
  • Spaniard arrives in the USA fresh from competing in the Nürburgring 24 Hours on June 1-2

Azcona said: “We can feel positive for Mid-Ohio because we’ll have no compensation weight to carry in my Hyundai Elantra N TCR. But that means it will be really important to maximise our possibilities and score as many points as possible to catch up in the championship. I’ve asked the Hyundai drivers from America some questions about Mid-Ohio as their clues and suggestions can help us to be as fast as possible, as quickly as possible. It will be difficult going from the Nürburgring straight to Mid-Ohio because there’s not much time to recover the energy. But I will sleep on the plane to minimise the damage and ensure I’m fit and ready to go for Mid-Ohio.”

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

  • Third place in first Marrakesh race helped to keep the Hungarian at the top of the Drivers’ standings
  • Michelisz scored three podiums in the four FIA World Touring Car races held in the USA in 2012 and 2013

Michelisz said: “Although we’ve had a gap of one month in between the races in Marrakesh and Mid-Ohio, this does not mean we’ve been sitting still. We have done some testing and looked at the possibilities for further improving our Hyundai Elantra N TCR. I also visited the Nürburgring to support the Hyundai squad taking part in the 24-hour race. But after a busy couple of months as the season started it was also nice to take a rest and spend some time with my family and my kids. I know Mid-Ohio from the simulator, it was one of my favourites when I raced online but, because it was a very long time ago, I don’t remember all the corners so well. But I liked the circuit so I’m excited to experience it for real.”

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

  • Argentinian well prepared for maiden US outing with visits to BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse
  • Two top-five finishes in Marrakesh have elevated Girolami to fourth in the Drivers’ table

Girolami said: “I’ve never raced in the States before so this will be a new experience for me. I will carry 30 kilos of compensation weight so I will have to learn how to manage the extra weight as this will be the first time I have done so in my Hyundai Elantra N TCR. But I’m not afraid because we saw in Marrakesh that Mikel and Norbi could still do a good job. I’ve stayed focused since Morocco by working on the sim to get as much info about the Mid-Ohio track as I can. I’ve also spent some time in the workshop with the team and my engineer Davide. Being new in the team for this year means I need to get as much knowledge about the car as possible, digging deep into the data and discovering some other driving styles because I have been missing a little bit in qualifying. I also want to understand more about the start procedure. The Kumho FIA TCR World Tour is so competitive that if you don’t get a good launch, no matter what you do in qualifying, you will lose position every time.”

Weekend at a Glance

  • Free Practice 1 gets under way at 08:15 (13:15GMT) on Friday June 7 with Free Practice 2 up next from 11:25 (16:25GMT). Both sessions are timetabled for 30 minutes.
  • Qualifying takes place later in the day from 16:25 (21:25GMT). Q1 runs for 20 minutes with the fastest 12 drivers progressing to the 10-minute Q2.
  • Race 1 is due to begin at 08:30 (13:30GMT) on Saturday June 8 followed by Race 2 from 17:45 (22:45GMT). The races cover approximately 60 kilometres.
  • The Race 1 grid is decided by the Qualifying results with the top 10 from Race 1 lining up in reverse for Race 2.
  • Harry Gottsacker and Mark Wilkins, class winners at last weekend’s Nürburgring 24 Hours and regulars in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, join the grid in Bryan Herta Autosport-run Elantra N TCR for the Mid-Ohio event.

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