WTCC / 18 November 2017

Michigami makes WTCC history with Macau podium

Ryo Michigami made history on the legendary Macau street circuit as he became the first Japanese driver to finish on an FIA World Touring Car Championship podium.

He had started third on the partially-reversed Opening Race grid and held his position throughout the event, which was stopped short of its intended distance because of a multi-car incident.

The Honda Racing Team JAS driver's result helped the Japanese manufacturer to further close in on the lead of the Manufacturers' Championship. Honda are 30.5 points behind and could take the top spot in Sunday's Main Race.

Drivers' Championship contender Norbert Michelisz started eighth and was running fifth with two laps to go when he was involved in a multi-car incident in the 6.8km Macau Guia Circuit's twisty hillside section.

The Hungarian hit a barrier and came to a standstill; his Castrol Honda WTCC team-mate Esteban Guerrieri, who was following behind, sustaining damage of his own as Norbert's car blocked the track.

The incident, which involved five other following cars, caused the race to be red-flagged and then abandoned. With a result declared and full points awarded, Norbert and Esteban were classified in fifth and sixth places.

Norbert is now 16.5 points away from the Drivers' Championship lead and starts second - three places ahead of his title rival - in Sunday's Main Race.

Zengo Motorsport, who field a pair of JAS-built Civic WTCCs, claimed a double finish with their all-Hungarian driver line-up of Daniel Nagy and Zsolt David Szabo.

The pair finished 15th and 16th with Nagy ahead of his rookie team-mate and now lie 10th and 14th in the WTCC Trophy standings for drivers of non-manufacturer teams.

Ryo Michigami, Honda Racing Team JAS, said: "It's a huge honour to be on the podium for the first time in the WTCC and to become the first Japanese driver to do this. I have to thank everybody for their support in helping me to get here. The race was quite tough because I was trying to see if I could make up some positions, but also aware of who was behind me, and the need to score Manufacturers' points. I'm doubly proud because at the start of the season I wasn’t able to contribute many points for the team, but in the Asian races, things have been much better. I want to help Honda and Norbi as much as possible in the championship fight."

Alessandro Mariani, Team Principal, said: "I'm very happy for Ryo, who has not only made history as the first Japanese driver to finish on a WTCC podium, but also scored some very important points in the Manufacturers' Championship, which is now looking like quite a close fight. He held off the WTCC Drivers' Championship leader on true pace, which was very impressive and an indication of how his performances have improved of late. The incident that involved both Norbi and Esteban was unfortunate and has caused a lot of damage to both of their cars, which I hope we can repair for the Main Race."