Continuing our tour through Germany, the CDM ETCC visited the Hockenheimring after a great race meeting at the Nurburgring. This track hadn't been around that long on iRacing so some drivers didn't have any experience there, while others had put the time in to learn it like the back of their hand, albeit not in the Kia Optima GTS. Sakowicz still lead the championship from Jack Johns and Stephen King but would not be present for this race meeting, meaning the others could reel him in!
In Qualifying, it was King setting the early pace with Michael Blake up there with him, but Mats Borge Andersen made another incredible appearance at the top of the charts late on! Mark Woodhouse was 4th fastest ahead of Jack Johns with Craig Shill just missing out on his first Qualifying point of the season in 6th. John Roberts ended up 12th which would put him on pole position for the Sprint Race alongside Adam Wright who had returned to the championship after a long time away.
Round 13 - Sprint Race
The initial launch from Ciaran Dempsey in 3rd was amazing and he flew into the lead way before Turn 1 with Roberts holding 2nd and Wright in 3rd. Behind, Tim Cox tried a late lunge into Turn 1 that caused a bit of a check up, but everyone made it through safely. Roberts was soon back into the lead after going around the outside into the Mercedes corner.
Behind them though, some contact between four drivers caused a bit of a pile up, ending the race early for Mark Woodhouse who fell victim to the sim's physics launching him into the air after Zack Gould ran into his stationary car. Initially, Donni Henriksen had missed his braking point and slapped into Craig Shill on the apex, while Jack Johns got a tiny tap from Andersen on the way in, and collected Woodhouse.
On the following Lap, Adam Wright took back the lead from Roberts at the same place it changed on Lap 1. There was still a huge train of cars all together for the lead, meaning that one simple mistake could throw somebody down the pile very quickly. Jack Johns made another lunge up the inside to take Andersen and Benneyworth in one go, but on the exit of the corner, Henriksen was collected by Andersen who was just trying to get back on to the racing line.
The battles raged on - Johns trying to get the better of Jacolette while King tried to overtake Andersen. 2nd place down to 9th was all line astern. Roberts lost the back of the car into Mercedes while Johns took advantage of Dempsey and got into 3rd place, just before the tempers really boiled over.
Johns threw it up the inside of the hairpin, making big contact with Roberts, who gave as good as he got as the two were glued together round the final corner - John just wanting to show Jack the edge of the circuit in return. The two became attached once again and both went off the circuit, handing 2nd place to Stephen King. This didn't last long though, as into the hairpin, Michael Blake's car refused to slow down and he smashed into the side of King's car, taking them both out of contention in a big way.
This left Adam Wright a long way ahead up front to take a flawless victory on his return to the championship. Ciaran Dempsey got a great 2nd place with John Roberts taking his first podium of the season. Jack Johns was 4th ahead of Jacolette, with Benneyworth, Giudici, Henriksen, Doble and Shill rounding out the Top 10.
A couple of drivers were spoken to via private message after the race due to the standards looking very poor from some, but the way the messages were received and responded to was great - some positive sportsmanship and respect from those involved and contacted.
Round 14 - Feature Race
Ciaran Dempsey got a fantastic launch once again and overtook Wright before Turn 1 with Roberts going through as well. At the back of the pack, Mats Borge Andersen fell victim to contact with Mark Woodhouse and ended his race early in the wall. Stephen King would start from the pit lane after his dramas in Race 1, hoping to avoid some of the mayhem. Before the end of the lap, Adam Wright regained 2nd place to be ahead of Roberts, Johns, Jacolette, Benneyworth, Doble, Giudici, Henriksen and Blake.
After their earlier spat, Jack Johns and John Roberts were battling once again, Jack getting ahead at the hairpin after some strong defence from John. Just behind, Jacolette tried to go into the gap that had been opened, but ended up off the road after a tiny tap from Roberts. He was then hit in the rear by Henriksen who was trying to avoid the whole thing.
Mikey Doble was making strides up the order after not qualifying, now overtaking his teammate John Roberts, but unfortunately opened the door for Ben Benneyworth who slithered his Abruzzi Racewear car up into 5th. Behind them all, Mark Woodhouse would soon make his way through, overtaking Jacolette for 12th position.
A lap later, he tried a move down the inside of the two Dragonfly Competicion cars at the hairpin, but some over-exuberant steering lock from Tim Cox would put him into Mark's path on the exit, turning him around almost instantly. The question would now be "what damage does Woodhouse have from that?"
Out of the blue though, Ciaran Dempsey made a mistake and went off into the gravel from the race lead, managing to continue but falling down into 3rd place behind Wright and Johns! At the same corner, the Woodhouse and Gould battle was still going on - both of them behind held up into the stadium section after contact, with Carl Jacolette misjudging the run that he got, and getting into the back of Mark, spitting them both off the track at high speed.
Jack Johns took the race lead from Adam Wright down at the hairpin next time round with a textbook move. The boot was soon on the other foot though, as Adam started to pile the pressure on corner after corner - re-igniting that really exciting spirit that we saw from him at the season opener. The battle would go on for over a lap. Behind them, Dempsey tried playing it a bit cute but lost 3rd to Mikey Doble with Ben Benneyworth also closing in.
Doble would continue rising - as he often does - sparking a fantastic fight with Adam Wright where they stayed side-by-side for almost an entire lap, giving Jack Johns chance to run away before surprisingly diving into the pits at the end of Lap 7, when you'd expect him to stay out and extend the lead. Ben Benneyworth was the only car that joined him in pitting on that lap.
Michael Blake would be the sole car to pit on Lap 8, but Lap 9 saw an abundance of cars coming in - Doble, Wright, Dempsey, Henriken, and Shill. This left John Roberts to lead ahead of Giudici, Gould, Cox and King - all still had to pit though so it wasn't going to finish that way.
Blake had returned to the circuit behind Benneyworth but managed to get ahead a lap later - Jack Johns filling his mirrors before too long as he made a great move into the last corner. It was Donni Henriksen that surprised us all by coming out a long way ahead of the original lead group, after a much shorter, but still legal pit stop.
After all of the stops had been completed, followed by a bit of shuffling on the road as a result, the order on Lap 10 was Henriksen from Johns and Roberts who had been reunited, with Blake, Wright, Dempsey and Benneyworth have another brilliant scrap for their own positions inside the Top 10. Doble, Giudici and Shill following them a bit further back.
It seemed all of a sudden like John Roberts had found a second wind though, and as Jack Johns continued to kill his tyres, the Kia Veteran on iRacing was reeling him in again and starting to look at making a move. Johns covering his backside time after time, driving an incredible defence. Unfortunately, synchronised technical problems for Stephen King and Ciaran Dempsey put them on the sidelines - both of them pulling over with only a few laps to go.
Despite all of the incredible entertainment provided by Jack and John, nobody could touch Donni Henriksen up front and he took his second race win of the season in terrific style. Johns was 2nd with Roberts in 3rd, Adam Wright a great 4th place and Michael Blake 5th. Ben Benneyworth grabbed 6th place ahead of Daniele Giudici and Craig Shill and Mikey Doble fell back to 9th with Zack Gould rounding out the Top 10. Ciaran Dempsey would get going again and be classified one lap down in 13th.
Hockenheim had provided drama and great racing which is what we've come to expect from this championship now, withou Maciek Sakowicz to defend his championship lead as well, but now we move out of Germany - which has treated us to two absolute barnstormers - and head into Italy for two more meetings at Monza and Imola. We'll see you there!