On the past Sunday, the engines went on for the first multiplayer races of the eSports WTCC, on the iconic circuit of Monza. The Division 2 race already gave a first taste of the action. Stefan Fritsch won the race in a clean all-Volvo battle against Michel Gauch that lasted the whole race distance, while several incidents throughout the field led to heated discussions amongst the viewers even before the top division was on the screens.
In the qualifying of Division 1, it looked like Impact Racing’s Alexander Dornieden would take pole position in his Honda. But then, Julian Kunze from EURONICS Gaming improved his time to a 1:49.5, faster than all the leaderboard times before the event. Tim Heinemann in another Honda moved up into 2nd late in the session, but he couldn’t dethrone Kunze, taking an unlikely pole position in the Chevrolet on the high-speed circuit.
When the lights went out, it was the german trio of Kunze, Heinemann and Dornieden that quickly gapped the rest of the field. Kunze led at first, but then Heinemann took first place from him with an aggressive overtaking manoevre on lap 3. Dornieden and Kunze immediately started battling over P2, but due to the slipstream effect, Heinemann also couldn’t get away from them.
Behind them, there was a huge battle going on. Chris Butcher defended hard against a whole train of cars, containing drivers like Wisniewski, Baldi, Gomez or Stange.
Back at the front, it all went wrong for Dornieden and Kunze when the latter outbraked himself in the first corner on lap 7, hitting Dornieden and spinning both cars. They could rejoin in 2nd and 3rd due to the huge gap they already pulled to the rest of the field, but Heinemann’s lead was unchallenged now. Even though the gap went down to less than two seconds in the end, Heinemann crossed the line first and was the first winner of the eSports WTCC, ahead of Dornieden and Kunze. Right behind, there was drama on the line when Chris Butcher lost his 4th position to Juan Manuel Gomez. The battle for 10th was also still on, and Tamas Gerocs lost the reverse grid pole position to David Nagy in the final corner.
Drama continued even before the start of the second race, with Butcher and Gomez not starting due to technical problems and Schulze having to start from the pitlane. It was the polesitter David Nagy of Team VSR, leading the race in his Volvo from two fellow Hungarians, Baldi and Nandori that got involved in a battle early on. Tim Heinemann meanwhile was charging through the field rapidly. Nagy had already pulled a gap of over 3 seconds when he fell victim to the kerb on the inside of the second chicane, with his hopes of a race win buried in the gravel trap.
On lap 5 already, Heinemann took the lead and looked like he would complete the double on the first race event. But Mark Nandori was having none of it. Heinemann just couldn’t gap the Hungarian and with a courageous move into the second chicane on lap 9, Nandori retook the lead from Heinemann. The German tried to do a similar move on the next lap but failed to do so, sliding into the gravel and almost getting collected by Dornieden when he reentered the track. In the end, it was Mark Nandori of Team VSR winning the race ahead of Tim Heinemann, Alexander Dornieden, Gergo Baldi and Julian Kunze.
With these results, Heinemann takes the provisional lead in the championship, 10 points ahead of Dornieden, with Nandori in 3rd. A triple lead for Honda, but at the Hungaroring, a track that is strong for the Chevrolets and Volvos, the cards will be reshuffled.
Missed the action? You can watch the full replay of the broadcast on the link below. If you want to take part, you can try it out for free! The leaderboard challenge for the second race of the season on the Hungaroring is still open until Sunday night. And of course, be sure tune in to the next broadcast on Sunday, May 7th, at 17:00 GMT, once again live on the official YouTube channel of the FIA WTCC.
Text and Photos: Officials/Sector3 Studios