Kiss and Hertz win inaugural FIA Prize-Giving Challenge

FIA European Truck Racing Champion and event team-mate Dr Harald Hertz of Austria’s OSK take top spot in Doha, as Esteban Ocon wins champions’ kart race.

The inaugural FIA Prize-Giving Challenge has been won by a team comprising FIA European Truck Racing champion Norbert Kiss and the President of Austria’s motor sport body the Oberste Nationale Sportkomission für den Motorsport (OSK).

“It’s awesome,” said Kiss of the victory. “To be honest, I’m really surprised. I’m not normally that good in go-karts but we did really well in the other challenges so, very happy.”

Across four hotly contested challenges, the duo saw off strong competition from World Rally Cross Championship Touring Car category champion Daniel Lundh and Paolo Lonjomi.

In the top karting spring race, first place went to FIA F3 European Champion Esteban Ocon, with the French racer, who recently tested for the Lotus F1 team, finishing ahead of three-time grand prix winning F1 star Daniel Ricciardo, and FIA World Touring Car Champion Jose Maria Lopez.

Taking place on the eve of the FIA’s glittering annual Prize-Giving ceremony, the unique competition brought together stars from across the FIA’s championships to compete alongside FIA member club representatives attending this week’s Annual General Assembly in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The action-packed evening took in four challenges, with delegates and senior FIA figures teaming up for two of the event’s activities. The first saw the teams piloting two-person go-karts, with one team member steering and the other working the brake and throttle. With just a single flying lap available to each squad the pressure was on, and at the end of the competition the honours went to the team of FIA F3 European Championship star Felix Rosenqvist and senior FIA legal figure Sébastien Bernard.

The second event saw the teams pitted against each other in a stern test of brainpower as they were quizzed on motor sport and motoring knowledge by event host and three-time Le Mans 24 Hour winner Allan McNish. Emerging victorious after this round was the team of Lundh and Lonjomi, their perfect score putting them firmly into contention as the competition edged towards the halfway mark.

The third element of the challenge featured a novel approach to a football penalty taking competition with the drivers having ‘kick’ the ball to the net by clipping it with a speeding go-kart. Kiss dominated with a perfect score of five out of five penalties converted.

That just left the go-kart sprint races, with a qualifying session leading to three races. Bernard took a comfortable victory in the race for the slowest 12 qualifiers but the second final was a more bruising encounter, with FIA World Rallycross champion Petter Solberg winning a race-long battle with FIA Asia-Pacific Rally champion Jan Kopecky.

And so to the final race for the 12 quickest qualifiers. On pole was Ocon, but the young Frenchman got away slowly at the start and the lead was seized by World Rallycross Championship star Reinis Nitiss, with Ricciardo jumping up to third place.

The three-world class racers tussled hard through the opening laps, but when Ricciardo and Nittiss ran slightly wide battling for the lead, Ocon slipped past to take first place. He went on to build a solid lead over Ricciardo who finished second. Nittiss, however, dropped to fourth, with Lopez stealing third place. Fifth place went to Rosenqvist, with nine-times Le Mans 24-Hours winner Tom Kristensen sixth.

However, when the final tallies were made it was Kiss and Hertz who took the overall prize ahead of Lundh and Lonjomi, with Kristensen and new FIA Secretary General for Mobility Andrew McKellar taking the final podium spot.

The final word on exciting new event in the FIA calendar went to grand prix star Daniel Ricciardo. “I really enjoyed that. It was a great event. In all honesty I rarely have a bad time when there are go-karts involved, so thanks to the FIA for organising an excellent evening.”