ETRC Digital Racing Challenge - Round 2: Nürburgring
10. February 2021Last Sunday was the Nürburgring round of the virtual Truck Racing Challenge. The undisputed favourite again was the sim pro among the truck racers, Norbert Kiss. The Hungarian, as was expected of him, picked up pole for the first of the day’s two races. But it’s already clear that the MAN pilot is nowhere nearly as dominant as he was last year – at Round 1 on the virtual Hungaroring, the rising youth brigade from Spain, spearheaded by Mercedes pilot Manuel Alvarez and Josy Vila (MAN), had mixed it noteworthily.
However, it was another youngster who forged to the front up alongside Kiss’s Révész-red MAN: Lukas Hahn, the 22-year-old son of six-times European champion Jochen, in his Iveco.
Norbi took the lead into the first corner, but he hadn’t gotten beyond the Mercedes Arena when the race was aborted. There had been a massive pileup down in midfield, the start straight littered with trucks that had smashed into the barriers, others having ploughed straight into the gravel in the Mercedes Arena.
The restart was considerably more subdued. Kiss led the field once again, with Hahn in close pursuit. The rest of the pack followed at some remove, led by Alvarez, German MAN pilot Sascha Lenz, and Vila – their running order seemingly written in stone. The P6 battle, on the other hand, was as exciting as they get. Young Frenchman Teó Calvet in the Buggyra led compatriot Jonathan André (MAN) and Dutch Scania pilot Björn Tijhuis lapped in tight formation till the two Frenchmen touched, landing Calvet unceremoniously in the gravel. While André went on his merry way, the Buggyra had to pick its way back behind Tijhuis.
Nothing had changed at the front of the field – Kiss won easily, followed by Hahn, Alvarez, Lenz, Vila, André, Tijhuis, and Calvet. André was later docked 10 seconds, which dropped him to P8 below Calvet in the classification but that meant pole position on the partially inverted grid for the second race.
Compatriot Calvet snatched the lead on the start sprint, but that came to nothing in the Mercedes Arena, where the second pileup of the day brought everything to a grinding halt. Following a brief period of weather-induced interruptions in the live stream, the picture that crystallised was of André ahead of Alvarez, but the Spaniard soon went past the Frenchman into the lead. Hahn had, meanwhile, crept up on André unseen, and Kiss was pressuring Lenz in P4. While Alvarez kept pulling away, Hahn made it past André in the Mercedes Arena. Not long after Norbi, having presently leapfrogged Lenz and swallowed André whole, was hounding Hahn’s Iveco. Faced with a spot decision to make – concentrate on hunting Alvarez down or keep Kiss in check, – the young Swabian chose the latter, allowing Alvarez to take his maiden win. Hahn drove home his second P2 finish of the day, followed by Kiss, Lenz, and Vila.