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WTCR - Malaysia Race 1 Press conference transcript

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Norbert Michelisz, Aurélien Panis and Gabriele Tarquini attended the Race 1 press conference

FIA WTCR Race of Malaysia
WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup presented by OSCARO 2019

Deciding rounds 28-30 of 30, Sepang International Circuit, 12-15 December

Press Conference Room, Sepang International Circuit, 15 December

In attendance:
Norbert Michelisz, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, DHL Pole Position
Aurélien Panis, Comtoyou DHL Team CUPRA Racing, second position
Gabriele Tarquini, BRC Hyundai N Squadra Corse, third position

Norbi, you’ve got the number five on your Hyundai and now have a 27-point lead in the title race. How are you feeling right now?

I’m OK thanks! In the end you could see that the race was far from straightforward. The problems started with the tyre choice because we were just in between wet and dry conditions, so we had to gamble a bit. But in the end the choice was quite good because the conditions stayed constant. I managed to [keep] my rhythm which again was far from easy because it was a constantly changing balance. But in the end the important thing was to win the race and extend the lead because now this was a good step in the right direction. We are 27 points ahead but there are still 50 to collect, so there is still a long way to go.

Can you explain which Yokohama tyres you were using and how difficult were the conditions?

We went for slicks on the front and rain tyres on the rear. Usually this choice never works, but I think today we were also a bit lucky. For everyone who went for this choice, it was a big risk but in the end you have to go with a choice if you are not sure what the current conditions on the grid say. And between the five and two minutes boards we were still not sure, but the team made this choice and I am really thankful to them because in the end it was just the perfect one.

Aurélien, I know ice racing podiums are common for you, but this is your first in WTCR / OSCARO. Tell us about your race.

I’m really, really happy with my first podium in WTCR. I’m happy to achieve it because since the beginning of the season it was always close – fifth, sixth, seventh, but never on the podium, so finally I’m there. I just want to thank my Comtoyou Racing team because we made a good choice of tyre. It was not easy to decide it. But finally we finished second, the pace was good and I’m just super-happy to be here.

And you are here after a very difficult race in those conditions. What does this say about your progression this season?

The season was not so bad, we were usually fighting in the top 10 and to finish the last meeting on the podium, I’m really happy about that. It was not easy and nine laps was really long for me! Yeah, I’m just really happy.

Gabriele, a few overtakes in that race and a very important podium for the team which is striving for the teams’ title this weekend. How happy are you with that performance?

I am very happy for Norbi because I know how he feels. I’ve played many times for the title and it’s not easy to play for the title in the last weekend, and then you have these conditions. It’s the worst especially for him because he must play hard, but any mistake can cost him very much and he managed the perfect race. So I’m very happy for him. I tried to do my best to score some points also for the teams’ standings, but for us the drivers’ standing is very important. Norbi has driven a fantastic season, he made again a fantastic race after a really good qualifying, so he’s on the way. He’s far away because the title is there, but until the last point it is not done. It’s hard but we are there to help him if he needs it. But at the moment he doesn’t need any help.