Kiss’s victory parade comes to an abrupt stop
02. July 2020The fourth round of the ETRC Digital Challenge at a virtual Nürburgring last Sunday saw the debut of Iveco pilot Lukas Hahn, but he was not eligible for points – only participating full-season entrants are.
Norbert Kiss was a class apart in qualifying, beating German brandmate Sascha Lenz to pole position for Race 1. Lenz made the better getaway and was clean ahead at the entry to the Mercedes Arena, but a slam in the rear pitched him into the gravel. Kiss too fell back, and lo and behold, Lukas Hahn was now in the lead – a dizzying debut indeed.
But the Hungarian was soon looming in Hahn’s mirrors, with Lion team manager Jonathan André, standing in for Anthony Janiec, in close pursuit. This sandwich of Kiss between two non-competing drivers steadily pulled away from the rest, even as the Hungarian put Hahn under constant pressure. When the Iveco pilot drifted marginally from the raceline, the sim-race ace was ahead in a flash, followed determinedly by FrenchMAN André.
Soon Lenz came up on the Iveco, but the son of the six-times European champion ably held him at bay, crossing the line in P3 behind Kiss and André. But then Hahn collected a five second penalty, which forced him to yield the position to Lenz.
Dutchman Björn Tijhuis, standing in for cousin Erwin Kleinnagelvoort, was on pole for Race 2; Lenz and Kiss started from Rows 3 and 4 respectively. As in the three inverted-grid races so far, we saw yet another squeeze in midfield (but no restart), and Kiss and Lenz couldn’t keep up – initially. But the Hungarian was back in the chase shortly enough, picking off his slower rivals with characteristic consistency. Téo Calvet meanwhile had grabbed the lead in his Buggyra and proceeded to put daylight between himself and the pack. A few minutes before the finish Kiss, Lenz, and André had caught up. While it was clear that the podium would be decided between this quartet, the question was whether Kiss could take his eighth win in a row. He couldn’t – Calvet convincingly cut him off at every turn, and Lenz drew level with Kiss’s rear crash guard at the line.
This result is but a wrinkle on Kiss’s superb record; what will be exciting to watch is whether Calvet or Lenz finishes runner-up in the final classification.