Attila Tassi is the first teenager to join the #WTCR2019SUPERGRID, the TCR Europe race winner getting his chance to impress on the world stage in a KCMG Honda Civic Type R TCR – and take the fight to established hero and former mentor Norbert Michelisz for Hungarian supremacy.
Michelisz is a top touring car talent at home and abroad having challenged for the FIA World Touring Car Championship title in 2017 and won during WTCR / OSCARO last year.
While Tassi plans to use 2019 to grow his experience, he’s been a frontrunner in TCR events in each of the last three seasons – including in 2017 when he drove for the M1RA team Michelisz co-founded – making him one to watch and earning Honda Racing driver status in the process.
And Tassi, 19, will be in good company with the vastly experienced World Touring Car race winner Tiago Monteiro providing crucial guidance, having also signed to the Hong Kong-based KCMG outfit for the upcoming campaign, which features 30 races over 10 weekends.
With Monteiro previously announced along with Néstor Girolami and Esteban Guerrieri as a Honda-powered WTCR / OSCARO racer, Tassi’s agreement means the Civic Type R TCR-driving quartet is now complete. Meanwhile, the KCMG outfit joins ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport in representing Honda Racing in WTCR / OSCARO as a customer team.
François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the WTCR promoter, said: “I have no doubt that Attila will be a real asset to WTCR / OSCARO. He’s 19 with great potential and it will be very interesting to watch him against Norbert Michelisz, his one-time mentor. There’s no question that Norbi will be a title contender this season and he will always be a Hungarian hero, but in ‘Attika’ he will definitely face a driver capable of attracting his own fan following and taking away some of his limelight.”
HELL of a chance for teen Tassi
Attila Tassi follows a path trodden by Hungarian national hero Norbert Michelisz by stepping up to World Touring Car racing via a stint in one-make competition in his homeland and Europe. Almost 15 years younger than his Hyundai-driving compatriot, HELL Energy-backed Tassi will lock horns with Michelisz for the first time in 2019 at WTCR Race of Morocco from 5-7 April, which is followed by WTCR Race of Hungary from 26-28 April.
“I’m absolutely delighted to become a Honda Racing driver and to step up to the WTCR for a full season with KCMG,” said Tassi. “It’s a dream come true and I’m very grateful to have this opportunity at 19 years of age. So far in my racing career I’ve always been able to fight for victories and podiums, but I know that this will be the highest-level series I’ve ever contested and I had a taste of this in my wildcard outing at the Hungaroring last year.
“There will be many circuits I have never been to before and lots of new additional things too, so I know that I have to take this as a learning year, but the environment in the team is very good for a young driver like me, so we can achieve some strong results and move forwards during the year.”
Monteiro joins forces with KCMG for return from serious injury
Having impressed on his competitive comeback at WTCR JVCKENWOOD Race of Japan last October after 415 days of fighting to recover from serious injuries sustained in a testing crash in September 2017, Monteiro will embark on a full WTCR / OSCARO season with the Honda-powered KCMG organisation.
The 42-year-old, a podium finisher in Formula One, has 11 WTCC victories to his name and was on course to win the 2017 WTCC title until the accident at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya left the Portuguese fearing he would never drive again.
“It’s incredibly exciting to return to racing full time this year with KCMG and Honda and to welcome a young, fast and determined team-mate in Attila, who I know will be great to work with,” said Monteiro. “KCMG may be new to WTCR, but they have a fantastic track record in every form of motorsport they’ve contested plus a huge amount of touring car experience within the team, so we should be competitive from the first event.
“It’s been a long road to recovery, but the support I’ve been shown throughout by Honda, the WTCR and the entire motorsport family has been incredible. Attending the events when I wasn’t racing was tough, and my comeback in Japan was incredibly emotional. It’s been a tough journey, but I have no doubt that I’m stronger and more motivated than I’ve ever been and eager to win the championship that was taken away from me by injury in 2017.”
From Hong Kong to the WTCR, KCMG aims high in 2019
Formed by Paul Ip in 2007, KCMG has won numerous GT and single-seater titles in Asia, plus the LMP2 class at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2015. It also took the Teams’ title in TCR Europe last season when it also made two appearances in WTCR / OSCARO as a wildcard entrant.
Paul Ip, KCMG Team Principal, said: “We are very happy to make the step up to a full-time WTCR programme with the Honda Civic Type R TCR in 2019. In Tiago we have one of the most experienced touring car drivers in the world, who has been a consistent race winner at this level and in Attila we have an exciting you prospect who raced with us last year and has the potential to go right to the top of the tree in WTCR.”
Masashi Yamamoto, General Manager of Motor Sports Division, Honda Motor Co., said: “Paul Ip and his team have achieved great things in single-seater and sportscar racing and we hope that in the WTCR they can add to the TCR Europe Teams’ title they won last year. Tiago Monteiro is one of the world’s finest touring car drivers and we are delighted to see him back to full fitness after a determined recovery from injury, while Attila Tassi has already displayed excellent speed huge potential and will be a very good team-mate.”
The JAS Motorsport-built Honda Civic Type R TCR won five major titles in its first season of competition in 2018. Meanwhile, KCMG ran Tassi and Kris Richard as wildcard entrants at WTCR Race of Hungary and WTCR Race of Germany respectively in 2018.