Norbert Michelisz has sampled the Honda Civic he will race in the World Touring Car Championship this season after joining the Honda Racing Team JAS squad during its most recent test session in Italy.
The test, moved from Monza to the Circuito San Martino del Lago due to poor weather at the circuit that will host the WTCC season opener, saw Michelisz get behind the wheel of the 2012-spec car that was raced by Tiago Monteiro in the final three meetings last year; taking a podium finish in Macau.
Monteiro and fellow Honda driver Gabriele Tarquini were also present at the test putting more miles on the 2013-spec car ahead of the first round of the year.
The opportunity to run alongside the factory team provided Hungarian racer Michelisz with the chance to sample the Honda while his Zengo Motorsport team awaits delivery of the 2013-spec car he will campaign during the year ahead, with the two-time race winner impressed with his first run at the wheel of the Civic after two seasons competing in a BMW 320 TC.
“The plan was to go testing as soon as our own car was ready, but because I needed to get used to the Civic it was decided to start with the JAS car from last year,” the 28-year-old said. “It was fun. I tried to be prepared for testing as a lot of things are new compared to the car we have had for the past two seasons, but the first impressions are good.
“Honda has tested the Civic a few times before and Gabriele and Tiago have a lot of information about the car, which is useful for me, so I asked them about what the car is like to drive. They told me that the car is clean and smooth to drive and it does exactly what the driver expects it to do, which is exactly what my impression of the car were when I drove it. I have good feelings for the season ahead.”
While the Zengo Motorsport programme will be fully independent, Michelisz said he was looking forward to the chance to work closely with the factory team when the new season starts at Monza.
“It's a huge step for us,” he said. "The thing that has been missing in the last few years has been technical help and support, Now with JAS, and with Gabriele and Tiago, it is great to have that information, which will help us progress as a team.
“If we learn as much as possible from them, then it won't be a long time until we are at a similar level to them."