Hot start to the season at Hockenheim: Maciek Steinhof won the fiercely competitive opening race of the ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup.
In a nail-biting fight for victory between three racers the Pole Steinhof prevailed against the Austrian Matthias Gamauf and pole sitter Elia Erhart from Nuremberg. Marcus Fluch from Sweden and Felix Tigges from Wolfsburg took places four and five, and local hero David Jahn from Speyer – as the sixth-placed contender and best rookie – caused a sensation. In eighth place, guest entrant Freddie Hunt, the son of former Formula 1 World Champion James Hunt, clinched a remarkably good result as well.
‘That was an exciting and entertaining start to the season, the male and female drivers delivered motorsport to the spectators that was absolutely worth watching,’ Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen summed up the round. ‘Experience has shown that the experienced drivers have an advantage at the season opener – but with three real rookies finishing in the top ten the race already suggests the strength of the 2009 newcomers.’
Maciek Steinhof was brimming with exuberance as he climbed out of the 150-hp Racing Polo. ‘That was a perfect start to the new season,’ said the driver who – at 23 – is the oldest in the field of 27 contenders. ‘Matthias and Elia were really very quick. Fortunately, they were busying fighting against each other for quite a bit of the time.’ At the start, Steinhof took the lead in front of Gamauf as well as Erhart and at first kept it without being challenged because an accident in the first turn resulted in a four-lap safety car period. After the re-start, Matthias Gamauf launched an all-out attack and outbraked Steinhof, but the Pole countered, with Erhart on his heels, and Gamauf was third again. The three front runners ran their laps bumper to bumper; the final lap then saw the crucial attack by Gamauf. ‘I reached the Motodrom faster than Elia and saw the opportunity,’ said Gamauf, who outbraked Erhart in a remarkable manner and clinched second place.
The ‘local heroes’ experienced peaks and valleys at Hockenheim: Vivien Volk from Speyer started from sixth place on the grid, got entangled in the starting accident and had to fight from the rear of the field. However, by setting the second-quickest lap time, the 19-year-old suggested that a better result than an 18th-place finish would have been possible. ‘That was bad luck. Two weeks from now, we’ll be driving on my favourite track, the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. I expect quite a bit from that round.’ David Jahn, who lives in Speyer too, was more than happy. ‘Finishing my first car race as the best rookie is fantastic,’ said the 18-year-old, who moved up to touring cars from karts. Guest entrant Freddie Hunt enjoyed his excursion to the Polo Cup. ‘Driving with a top over my head for a change was good fun,’ said the Briton who normally contests the ADAC Formula Masters powered by Volkswagen.