WTCC World Touring Car Championship 2014
The Honda Civic of Norbert Michelisz claimed third place on the first corner of the first lap of Race 1 of the WTCC event at Slovakia Ring and held the position confidently as the conditions deteriorated as the rain intensified forcing the race to be halted with 4 laps to go. The track was flooded and the Race Director decided correctly that conditions were unsafe. Michelisz had shown his determination to improve his 4th position on the grid and made an excellent start to get ahead of reigning champion Muller.
“I am really happy with my result. The car had a good balance and I was really confident. I was expecting to have to fight with Muller but then he had to take his drive-through penalty for jumping the start; I had to drive very safely but I always had something in hand. It is good to have another podium here. Let’s see what happens in Race 2 but I am starting further back this time,” said Norbi.
Track conditions were wet for the start but heavy rain fell immediately the cars left the grid and increased as the race progressed. For the Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team the conditions could not have been less favorable. Gabriele Tarquini made a very strong start but was then blocked and forced wide. Tiago Monteiro also made a good start to close up behind his Italian team-mate and was able to pass him on lap 6 for the two Castrol liveried Civics to finish close together in the shortened race.
“Conditions were terrible out there,” said Gabriele, “It was difficult to see in the spray and there really was not grip at all on any part of the circuit.”
Tiago also said the conditions were bad for the drivers. “I really made a good start and passed some cars at the start but got bumped at the second corner and lost speed. I managed to get past Gabri at the chicane but in these conditions but really it was impossible to get any grip for traction or braking and that makes it very dangerous. Thankfully all our cars are still in very good racing order and we will see what happens later”
After the disappointment of yesterday when boost problems cut short his qualifying opportunities, Mehdi Bennani quickly moved up the field from the back of the grid to be running in 13th place after two laps. A slide delayed him mid-race and he was running in 15th position when the race was halted.
Rain storm forces cancellation of race 2 at slovakia ring
The rain that forced the early termination of Race 1 has intensified during the afternoon and with the light fading fast as the 17.45 start time approached, the Race Director had to make the decision to cancel the race. Whilst safety considerations must be paramount the drivers had mixed opinions.
Castrol Honda driver Tiago Monteiro, who would have started Race 2 from pole position, has experienced as bad conditions before. “When I drove Formula 1 we started the Grand Prix in Malaysia behind the Safety Car and did 15 laps before the race was stopped. I understand that safety is a major concern. I would have liked to have started the race even behind the Safety Car and see if the conditions improved but it is soon getting dark also. Perhaps if we had the race earlier in the day even if it was as wet we could have been on track. It’s a missed opportunity for a good showing.”
Gabriele Tarquini was philosophical, “I was prepared for the start and to do maybe two or three laps behind the Safety Car and then stop if the rain did not get better in around 20 minutes. But the decision is made so we have to plan for Salzburg and the next race.”
Having deserved his earlier podium appearance Norbert Michelisz was more disappointed for the fans than himself. “It is the right decision but I am sad for the fans because they have supported us all and me especially last weekend in Hungary and there have been many of them who have come from Hungary to see us race here.”
Mehdi Bennani was also disappointed not to be gaining more experience of the conditions. “We do not have much rain in Morocco so all my experience has to be gained at WTCC tracks all over the world. But I can see the decision and understand the safety question.”
|1||Sebastien LOEB (Citroen C-Elysee WTCC)|
|2||Jose LOPEZ (Citroen C-Elysee WTCC)|
|3||Norbert MICHELISZ (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|4||Tom CORONEL (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)|
|5||Tom CHILTON (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)|
|6||Gianni MORBIDELLI (Chevrolet RML Cruze TC1)|
|7||Tiago MONTEIRO (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|8||Gabriele TARQUINI (Honda Civic WTCC)|
|15||Mehdi BENNANI (Honda Civic WTCC)|