Norbert Michelisz, the first Hungarian driver who has won a world championship race in an FIA series, was born on the 8th of August 1984 in Mohács, Hungary. He was raised near the city of Pécs, a historic venue for Hungarian rally drivers with his uncle being a race driver himself. Michelisz got poised by motorsport in his childhood but then the financial circumstances did not allow him to start a professional racing career.
As an alternative, Norbert turned to racing simulations in his teens. As a result of his achievements, he came to know Gabor Wéber, who was then Zengő Motorsport’s most successful driver in the real-life Hungarian Renault Clio Cup. Wéber noticed the talent of the young Michelisz and recommended him for a test to team chairman Zoltán Zengő. Michelisz showed a stunning performance on his debut in a real Renault Clio Cup car and impressed Zengő Motorsport’s chiefs so much that they entered the young talent for the maiden 2006 Suzuki Swift Cup.
Back to back champion in Hungary
The season brought tough competition but Michelisz won 6 out of the 13 races including the two events on his debut and became the first ever champion of the Suzuki Swift Cup. At the end of the season he was awarded the “Talent of the Year” trophy by the Hungarian Autosport Federation MNASZ.
In 2007 Michelisz made a step forward when he moved up to the Renault Clio Cup. After some initial difficulties he scored a total 8 victories out of 15 races and defeated his in-house rival János Vida in the chase for the 2007 Renault Clio Cup title.
Breaking into the FIA World Touring Car Championship
The 2008 season was a real breakthrough for both Michelisz and Zengő Motorsport as the Hungarian team entered the SEAT Leon EuroCup featuring Gábor Wéber and Norbert Michelisz. The duo formed a great alliance, with Wéber scoring the team’s first international victory in Pau, but Michelisz took command from the following race in Estoril and claimed four pole positions in a row.
This led to the success at the season-finale in Monza, where Michelisz claimed his first ever victory in the SEAT Leon EuroCup and secured the chance to drive the factory-supported guest car in the Japanese round of the 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Michelisz was a victim of a crash on the first race in Okayama after getting the 20th place on the starting grid but in the second race he delivered a great performance and finished 16th from 28th on the grid. He said later that the top priority was to demonstrate his abilities to SEAT Sport’s experts.
Champion of the SEAT Leon EuroCup
At the beginning of the 2009 season Zengő Motorsport and Dension Ltd., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of connected car entertainment systems, joined forces. This enabled Michelisz to compete in the the 2009 SEAT Leon EuroCup, eventually securing the championship title, and to race in six different championships with four different SEAT race cars, including the 2009 FIA WTCC world champion SEAT Leon TDI.
As a prize for taking the EuroCup title, Michelisz raced the SEAT Leon TDI in Braga at the European Touring Car Cup, where he took victory from pole position in Race 1 and finished 3rd in the overall classification. A few months earlier Michelisz also earned to chance to line up on the WTCC grid for the second time in his career: the Hungarian driver took part in the British round of the world championship at Brands Hatch and scored 2 points in Race 2.
After Michelisz’s impressive campaign during the 2009 season, it was clear that the young Hungarian driver is right to knock on the door of the FIA WTCC; the only question was whether he can have a chance to step up to the highest level permanently.
As a result of SEAT’s decision to re-organize its motorsport activities, privateer teams were given the opportunity to run the factory-spec world champion SEAT Leon TDI race cars. With the collaboration of Zengő Motorsport and Dension Ltd., the new Zengő-Dension Team was formed, entering Norbert Michelisz into the 2010 FIA World Touring Car Championship.