San Luis, Argentina
August 27, 2023 – A consistent weekend for Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing driver Norbert Michelisz at the sixth round of the Kumho TCR World Tour in Argentina sees the Hungarian take back the lead of the Drivers’ standings as the series heads into a two-month break before travelling to Australasia in November. The event also saw BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse take its third 1-2 finish of the season in Race 1 on Saturday.
Mikel Azcona took his first win of the season after a dramatic race that was scattered with safety car neutralisations. The Spaniard didn’t have a great start off the line but was able to hold his third-place position. He was closing in on the car in second place when the first safety car was deployed, halting his progress, but at the restart he was straight on the attack again and quickly gained a position in his Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
A late second safety car period continued till the clock ran down to zero, meaning a one-lap dash to the chequered flag to round out the opening race. Hot on the heels of Rob Huff ahead, Azcona was applying pressure and capitalised when Huff went wide, snatching first place in the final corners.
Team-mate Norbert Michelisz had an outstanding start from second and shot into the lead at the first corner. A tap from behind caused the Hungarian to go wide at the end of lap one resulting in losing three places to fourth. After the first safety car restart, he made a brave move on the inside of his title rival into the hairpin for third position and charged to catch Azcona. He was also able to make up another position when Huff went wide, crossing the line in second.
Sunday’s Race 2 brought better weather conditions for the drivers, allowing for more chances to attack. Michelisz did exactly that; after making a good start from ninth, he gained four positions on the opening lap before a brief safety car period. When racing resumed he made a clean move into fourth where he continued for the remainder of the race. Drama occurred on the final lap, when his title rival tried to overtake on the dirty part of the track, losing grip, which caused him to steer into the path of Michelisz’s Hyundai Elantra N TCR. The Hungarian was able to keep the car going with minimal damage and finished in fourth.
However, it was a Sunday to forget for Azcona. He made up two positions from eighth in the opening corner but a strong hit from another car forced him into heavy contact with the wall. The Spaniard was initially able to continue on track, but after dropping down the order, he had to bring the car into the pits for an early retirement due to the damage sustained.
After outscoring his title rival in Race 2, Michelisz moves back into the lead of the Drivers’ standings, while Azcona drops to fourth after scoring no points in the second race. BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse also retain its second place in the Kumho TCR World Tour for Teams.
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Andrea Cisotti said: “My congratulations go to our customer team BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse on achieving a third 1-2 finish of the season in Argentina this weekend with the Hyundai Elantra N TCR and to Norbert for re-taking the lead in the Drivers’ standings. It was a challenging weekend for the team, especially in Race 2, but Saturday’s result is a great way to go into the two-month break. Both the team and our Customer Racing department will be working together ahead of the Australasian rounds to make sure they will be able to get the next event off to a good start.”
Norbert Michelisz said: “The weekend started a bit tricky; we didn’t seem to have the pace, but the team did a great job to improve the Hyundai Elantra N TCR so that I was confident going into qualifying. It hasn’t been easy as the track conditions kept changing due to the weather, so it was difficult to defend and overtake without making any mistakes. I think it was even trickier than what it looked like from the outside. But in the end, I have scored a lot of important points for the standings this weekend, which was always going to be a hard task on a circuit like this with the tough competition around us.”
Mikel Azcona said: “It’s been and up and down weekend. It was really positive up until Sunday. The team have done a fantastic job with the Hyundai Elantra N TCR and gave me a good car for every session. Achieving the good result in qualifying really helped us to fight in Race 1 where we finished first and second, so very pleased to have taken my first win of the season. Sadly, these good feelings ended there as the second race was very short for me. I finished in the second corner after being pushed into the wall. I’m disappointed as I felt really strong before the race, but the season still has a long way to go, and we can recover from this result.”
2023 Kumho TCR World Tour for Drivers’ Standings
After round 6
1. Norbert Michelisz 270
2. Yann Ehrlacher 266
3. Rob Huff 247
4. Mikel Azcona 243
5. Nestor Girolami 220
6. Thed Björk 206
7. Frédéric Vervisch 197
8. Santiago Urrutia 182
9. Ma Qing Hua 181
10. Tom Coronel 76
11. Kobe Pauwels 74
12. John Filippi 70
13. Bernardo Llaver 28
14. Esteban Guerrieri 26
15. Juan Angel Rosso 23
2023 Kumho TCR World Tour for Teams’ Standings
After round 6
1. Cyan Racing Lynk & Co 642
2. BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse 523
3. Audi Sport Team Comtoyou 471
4. ALM Motorsport 182
5. Comtoyou Racing 148
6. Comtoyou 91
7. Squadra Martino Racing 72
8. Paladini Racing 48
9. Aggressive Team Italia 47
10. Squadra Martino 46