Hungaroring crowns its king: Norbert KissIn front of 55,000 spectators, Norbert Kiss concluded his weekend in the best of ways. Kiss left his rivals not even the smallest crumbs of comfort in a Race 2 delayed by afternoon rain. Apart from a few wet patches outside the racing line, the track had dried out by the time things got underway so the cars lined up on slicks.
There was no trouble at the start and the cars filed through the first two curves evenly. Kiss was out in front and already looking to build an advantage. He perhaps pushed a little too hard at turn 12 where he strayed off the track, fortunately onto asphalt, and came back on without losing his spot. The Race 1 winner crossed the start-finish line leading from Gaetano Ardagna, who got off to an amazing start, Vida, Piancastelli, Bastiaans, Baldi, De Castro, Durante, Smurra, Neri, Castiglioni, Gugger and Segler.
Putting the disappointment of the first race behind him, Phil Bastiaans was super-aggressive and the Dutchman got past Piancastelli and targeted an in-fighting Ardagna and Vida. Taking a cue from Bastiaans, Baldi also tried to turn the heat up on Piancastelli but the Tuscan was forced way off the racing line at the final curve. Baldi had no choice but to tuck in behind the Romagna driver and had lost all the pace needed to defend his position from a menacing De Castro.
With Kiss in a commanding lead, Ardagna and Vida were disputing second place with Phil Bastiaans occasionally throwing his hat into the ring. When the chance came, the Dutchman was quick to make the most of a Vida mistake to overtake him and grab third. Not content with this, Bastiaans pulled up to Ardagna’s bumper and nudged him a few times. This attracted the attention of the race officials, who pulled out the black and white warning flag, but the Dutchman was not to be denied and swept past Ardagna’s outside at turn 1. The Venezuelan was then handed more of the same treatment by Vida and slipped down to fourth.
Further down the pack, Alessandra Neri stood out for overtaking Smurra and taking tenth, as did Andrina Gugger for coming back after an unhappy start. Kiss continued to thrill the fans and posted a time of 1’56”457 in putting eleven seconds between his car and Bastiaans’. Baldi was trying to turn his weekend around and climbed into sixth having got past De Castro; a lap that also saw Vida attack Bastiaans. The Hungarian edged past the Dutchman at turn 1 but went too wide and spun when lining up for turn 2.
In the Radio MonteCarlo car, Sabino De Castro, the race’s other guest, again starred with his repeated hounding of Baldi that was just on the right side of legal. Lap seven saw Kiss again lower the fastest lap with 1’56”384. This is where the race turned for Gaetano Ardagna and Nicolò Piancastelli. The Venezuelan had been doing very well when his car was damaged by a back marker. The clash was involuntary but it gave Piancastelli the chance to overtake that he had been waiting for.
The fight between David Baldi and De Castro was also attracting interest and, in the end, the Radio MonteCarlo drive got the better of the provisional series leader. His joy was short-lived however as De Castro, from Monza, spun on lap eleven and found himself in twelfth. A private battle was going on for tenth spot between Andrina Gugger and Matteo Castiglione. Brake problems for Castiglione saw him misjudge a turn on lap sixteen and have to give way. The final incident of an exciting race came on lap 20 when Andreas Segler crashed at turn 11, luckily without suffering any injuries. After 38 minutes and one lap of action, the race director showed the chequered flag to mark Norbert Kiss’ extraordinary win.
In second was Phil Bastiaans (32”0 down), followed by Nicolò Piancastelli (44”3 down), Gaetano Ardagna (45”2 down), David Baldi (52”9 down), Davide Durante (56”7 down), Janos Vida (59”3 down) and Andrina Gugger (1’09”9 down). The drivers who finished outside the top ten were Matteo Castiglioni, Sabino De Castro, Alessandra Neri and Emanuele Smurra.
Kiss peerless in Race 1A fair sized crowd turned out for the first Trofeo Maserati GranTurismo MC race. The warm sun certainly helped as it banished the rain that some had forecast for Budapest.
Norbert Kiss, starting from pole, seemed to be the man to beat as the young Hungarian had set quick times from free practice on. Sbirrazzuoli’s acceleration was the only surprising factor in what was an otherwise even start. He made the most of the space where Kuppens (who started from the pit lane) should have been to move into third.
Further down the field the drivers negotiated turn 1 without any of the feared collisions. So, Kiss was leading from Vida with Sbirrazzuoli, Bastiaans, Baldi, Durante, Piancastelli, De Castro, Ardagna and Smurra filing behind them. Sbirrazzuoli was attacking Vida with Bastiaans leading a group of five cars bunched within two seconds of each other. Baldi, after a tough qualifying session, was out to defend his overall lead and edged into fourth. This advantage didn’t last long as Bastiaans retook his spot after an intense duel. Up ahead Kiss was beginning his one-on-one with the stopwatch.
On lap three, the talented Hungarian had built up a lead of more than five seconds over Vida and Sbirrazzuoli, who were close to one another. Kuppens, forced to start from the pits, was setting some interesting lap times and trying to make his way into the positions that count while Sbirrazzuoli snatched second with a fine overtaking move. Kiss stopped the clock at 1’56”326 on lap five and this turned out to be the race’s fastest lap. Meanwhile, De Castro had pulled into Baldi’s slipstream hoping to get past him in the first third of the track. The pressure from behind forced Baldi to step on the gas. This soon brought the Tuscan right onto Bastiaan’s tail. The Dutchman was having problems with his grip, resulting in him missing a turn and tumbling down to ninth.
Things were exciting as it was clear the heat was getting to the drivers. Baldi misjudged a braking point and ended up in the sand, opening the door to De Castro and Piancastelli. De Castro, in Radio Montecarlo colours, then got the braking at turn 1 all wrong and Piancastelli, from Romagna, made the most of it. As Bastiaans rolled into the pit lane to retire, Kiss started his eleventh lap more than 12 seconds up on Sbirrazzuoli, 13”7 on Vida, 28”2 on Piancastelli, 28”6 on De Castro and 28”8 on Durante; in the other top ten places were Ardagna, Baldi and Andrina Gugger.
In this phase of the race, Davide Durante was attracting attention, though not always for positive reasons. His tyres were starting to wear out and the Swiss driver dropped to eighth after missing his braking at turn 1. He then lost control at turn four, damaging the car so much that he was forced to pull out. While all this was going on, Baldi had overtaken Ardagna to take sixth but could not live with De Castro and Piancastelli. These two were really going for it, cranking up the excitement levels even more. De Castro kept trying to attack Piancastelli who held a lead of less than a second. However, Piancastelli defended his place even if it meant leaving the braking as long as he dared and locking the front wheels.
Another private battle was going on between Sbirrazzuoli and Vida, just seven tenths apart, with the Monaco driver having a few problems with his brakes. Kiss, in the lead, continued to press as he lapped at a pace no-one else could live with. One lap from the end, Kiss posted a time of 1’57”693, the third fastest in the race. As the race came to an end, De Castro made things interesting. After giving his tyres a bit of a rest, he started going for Piancastelli again. Unfortunately for De Castro, Piancastelli was good enough to hold him off and went on to take a deserved fourth place; a fine way to celebrate his 24th birthday. So, Kiss took the chequered flag after 21 faultless laps. Behind him came Sbirrazzuoli (26”8 down), Vida (27”2 down), Piancastelli (45”2 down), De Castro (46”5 down), Baldi (55”5 down), and Ardagna (56”3 down). In the final top ten places were Andrina Gugger, Matteo Castiglioni and Alessandra Neri.
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