Honda’s quest for the FIA World Touring Car Championship continues with a welcome return to the world’s most challenging street track, the Macau Guia Circuit, this weekend.
Following a third victory of the season at the Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi last month, Norbert Michelisz lies second in the Drivers’ Championship, just 16.5 points away from the series lead and with 120 up for grabs at the final two rounds of the season.
The Hungarian, who has won more WTCC races than any other driver this year, has strong memories of Macau, which returns to the calendar this year after a two-year absence. He collected his maiden victory in the series there in 2010 and finished as runner-up in 2014.
His Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team-mate Esteban Guerrieri, who continues to deputise for the recovering Tiago Monteiro, has never raced a touring car at Macau.
He does, however, have Formula 3 experience at the track and memorably made up 14 positions in a stirring fightback in the category’s Grand Prix there in 2007.
An impressive Honda debut in challenging weather conditions in Japan resulted in a third and a fourth-placed finish, maintaining his eighth place in the Drivers’ Championship.
Ryo Michigami enjoyed his most competitive WTCC weekend to date in Japan after taking a career-best fifth place in qualifying and then securing a points finish in the Opening Race.
Like Esteban, he too has Formula 3 experience at Macau and raced there twice in the 1990s.
Macau’s event format is unusual in the context of the 2017 WTCC. Practice begins on Thursday with qualifying and MAC3 the following day. The Opening Race takes place on Saturday with the Main ‘Guia’ Race held on Sunday.
The Civics will carry 70kg compensation weight in Macau; a reduction of 10kg from the previous two events in China and Japan.
Norbert Michelisz 5
“I’m so pleased to have Macau back on the calendar as it’s one of my favourite tracks and because I scored my first WTCC win in 2010. This weekend is a crucial one because while I’m right in the middle of the championship battle, I still have to keep reducing the points gap to the leader to make sure I still have a chance in Qatar. Macau is a tough circuit where one mistake can cause a disaster, so we must put pressure on our rivals and stay strong ourselves. I’m confident that the improvements the team have made to the Civic since the summer will put us in a strong position this weekend.”
- Castrol Honda WTCC
Esteban Guerrieri 86
“After achieving some strong results in my first weekend with Honda in Japan, I’m delighted to have been asked to race the Civic WTCC in Macau, although I was sorry to hear that Tiago is not yet ready to return. I’ve never raced anything with a roof at Macau, but I’ve done quite a lot of racing on street circuits in touring cars in Argentina and in the WTCC, so as long as I can keep my nose clean, I’m confident that I can continue to challenge for two strong results and help the title push for both Honda and Norbi.”
- Castrol Honda WTCC
Ryo Michigami 34
“I haven’t raced at Macau for over 20 years, so I’m very much looking forward to returning and to building on what have been the two best weekends of my WTCC career in China and Japan. I enjoy street circuits, where the margin for error is very small, and have performed well in Morocco and Portugal – the two street tracks we’ve visited so far in 2017. We’re in a very tight battle for the championship and my aim for this weekend is to take the best result I possibly can to help Honda and Norbi.”