Max Hesse happy with maximum points score as title rivals falter
Championship contender Max Hesse says it was “really important” to score the maximum points on offer in the opening race of the TCR Germany championship round at the Nürburgring, after he hauled himself to second place in the standings and significantly reduced the gap to leader Antti Buri.
Hesse finished second to Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville in Saturday’s Race 1, but with the Belgian rally star ineligible for points due to his guest driver status, Hesse inherited the maximum 40 points handed out for victory.
With overall leader Buri only managing fourth aboard his Audi RS 3 LMS, and fellow title rivals Harald Proczyk and Mike Halder both running into trouble, Hesse was the main winner in the big-picture battle – where he now sits just 24 points adrift of Buri.
“It was a very good day, it was full points which was really important,” said Hesse to TouringCarTimes. “The race was really good – big thanks to the team for doing such a great job. To cross the line 1-2 with Thierry is fantastic, and tomorrow we try to do a good job again.”
Hesse also hailed the performance of the race-winning Neuville, whom he also battled for pole in this morning’s qualifying session, just missing out by 0.037s.
“For sure, Thierry is a great driver,” Hesse said. “I was lucky to meet him before to do some coaching and testing together, and straight away we were personally close, working together really well. Today I slightly missed out on pole position this morning, but it’s all good. For me it was mainly important to take the points.”
Hesse will start Sunday’s Race 2 from ninth on the grid, which is shaped by reversing the top ten from qualifying. As such, he will set off one place ahead of Neuville, but behind all three of his chief title adversaries.
Buri will start from fourth, Proczyk from sixth and Halder from eighth.
“For tomorrow we have to try to get as many points as possible,” Hesse added. “Coming from P9, we also need to look at the weather since it might rain. Then it’s always a different story, but we have been strong in the wet so far. Antti is doing a great job this year. Unfortunately last Sunday [at Zandvoort, where he got hit by Proczyk] the race cost us a lot of points, otherwise it would be really, really close now [in the standings]. Saturdays have been good for us but now we need a strong race tomorrow also to see what we can do.”