The Esports World Touring Car Cup returned to much fanfare with two unfamiliar names atop both podiums of the evening.
Martin Barna and Luciano Witvoet may very well have claimed twenty-five points apiece, but Gianmarco Fiduci claimed the most points overall with two podium finishes establishing a strong, early case for his place on the 2023 season’s grid.
Moving from the Nürburgring to Budapest’s Hungaroring many found themselves, conversely, on the back foot. Jack Keithley had endured a torrid first couple of races back whilst Gergo Baldi, multiple online season champion, was just now about to make his 2022 bow.
Everything pointed to an intriguing round ahead.
Bence Bánki lay sixth in the standings following a rather under-the-radar event the previous week. In the backyard of many Hungarian participants, the newly-crowned X1 champion set the fastest lap by over a tenth of a second – impressive around this venue.
The Slovakian was to be surrounded by an Italian Fordzilla trio. Petr Pliska lined up on the front row followed by Alessandro Ottaviani and Shoot-Out points leader Fiduci. As a driver with no points to his name, this was an important result for Ottaviani in particular.
On a track where he has competed in real-world machinery, Baldi put in a solid (if unspectacular) effort for sixth on the grid. Previous race winners Barno and Witvoet were not troubling the top ten this time around, however.
Some early duels provided light entertainment as Race 1 got underway. Juan Manuel Gomez denied Baldi an early opportunity to snatch fifth position while Leandro Werle navigated his way past David Nagy for eighth.
It was near the end of the opening lap that the first major error was committed; Tim Jarschel too optimistic in his attempt to pass Witvoet, cleaning Bence Farkas well off the road.
Baldi would eventually succeed in his quest to pass Gomez seven minutes into the contest at a time when the top ten were all closely packed together.
His race pace, even at this stage, was beginning to show signs of lagging behind the frontrunners, however. As the front four broke away by a couple of seconds, Keithley kept the Hungarian honest.
Heading towards the final ten minutes, Gomez was beginning to struggle as well having fallen behind the Brit, Werle, Nagy and Grega Hudjek. His day would end miserably, forced into retirement for breaching the maximum number of ‘incident points’ afforded to him in a competitive RaceRoom Racing Experience server.
Hudjek would pass Nagy in the melee before Keithley found his way through the struggling Baldi. That would be it for the strong points-scoring positions as the top four remained in the status quo.
Bánki picked up another win to add to his collection ahead of Pliska and Ottaviani. Florian Hasse, thanks to Gomez’s strife, found himself on reverse grid pole position for Race 2.
A slow getaway for Hasse was not punished by Nagy who chose caution first. The same could not be said of Werle who desperately tried to relieve Hudjek of third place; a quest quickly shut down by the Slovenian. Bánki was the biggest loser of the first lap, dropping from tenth down to thirteenth. His race would not get much better from here.
After erring on the side of safety into Turn 1, Nagy was profferred a more concrete opportunity come Lap 2. Hasse was forced to relinquish the lead.
Further back, Baldi was suffering from a lack of front-end grip. Keithley demonstrated great patience behind but finally struck gold at Turn 1 with fifteen minutes left to run.
Off-kilter, he would find himself well beaten by Fiduci mere metres down the road at Turn 2 before Ottaviani rubbed further salt into the wound. A lengthy side-by-side ended in defeat for one of Hungary’s finest at Turn 12; a lap from hell.
His stablemate at M1RA Esports, although leading, was under immense threat himself. Nagy had done well up until this point but the good work was undone entering the final stage of the contest. Heading into Turn 1, Hasse sniffing down his neck, Nagy braked too deep, forcing Hasse further into the corner. This was the moment Hudjek had been waiting for.
With a smooth undercut, the Slovenian swept into the lead with aplomb whilst Nagy would also lose out to Hasse anyway. Hyundas up and down the field simply couldn’t hold onto their tyres and Nagy’s misery was compounded thanks to Werle snatching the final podium position.
In fact, his finishing position could have been much worse had Fiduci and Ottaviani not hindered each other so aggressively. Keithley would be the last to pass the Hungarian leaving him to watch the podium sitters cross the line ahead.
It was a breakthrough win for Hudjek on only his third appearance in the championship.
EWTCR 2022 SHOOT OUT, ROUND 2, RACE 1 RESULTS
- Bence Bánki – 26:25.309
- Petr Pliska – +0.233
- Alessandro Ottaviani – +0.600
- Gianmarco Fiduci – +0.872
- Jack Keithley – +2.673
- Gergo Baldi – +6.692
- Leandro Werle – +6.820
- Grega Hudjek – +7.004
- David Nagy – +8.599
- Florian Hasse – +8.798
EWTCR 2022 SHOOT OUT, ROUND 2, RACE 2 RESULTS
- Grega Hudjek – 26:27.069
- Florian Hasse – +1.610
- Leandro Werle – +1.967
- Jack Keithley – +2.632
- David Nagy – +5.735
- Gianmarco Fiduci – +5.937
- Alessandro Ottaviani – +6.097
- Petr Pliska – +6.415
- Gergo Baldi – +7.897
- Zoltan Csuti – +8.487