NORBERT KISS: FIVE-TIME GOODYEAR FIA ETRC CHAMPION
Norbert Kiss has secured his fifth Goodyear FIA European Truck Racing Championship title, marking his third consecutive championship win, solidifying his status as one of the sport's greatest champions.
The 38-year-old is not only one of Hungary's greatest-ever racing drivers, but has also carved out a reputation as the fastest driver of his generation in the Goodyear FIA ETRC, consistently outperforming his rivals and maintaining an unmatched level of excellence.
Kiss' career began on the racing simulator, where his exceptional skills quickly gained recognition. “Sim racing gives you a very good understanding of driving,” said Kiss. “You don't do enough races in real-life to gain experience quickly. But with the simulator you can do a season’s worth of racing in two days.”Kiss got picked up by a team and transitioned to real-world racing in 2005 with a brief stint in the Opel Astra Cup before winning the Renault Clio Cup in Hungary at his very first attempt.
Further success followed in 2007, when he took the Seat Leon Cup after a dominant display, and he followed up the feat in 2008, taking the double with another impressive performance.By now Kiss had made a name for himself, securing another national championship in the popular Suzuki Swift category, while he also tried his hand in single-seaters, turning heads in the Formula Renault 2-litre category, winning both championships in the same year.
Having honed his skills and achieved success in various racing disciplines, Norbert Kiss transitioned to truck racing in 2011 with the Hungarian OXXO Racing team, embarking on a new chapter in his motorsport career. “It was very different in the beginning because of the size, obviously, and the truck takes up a huge amount of space on the track,” said Kiss. “Also the seating position is very different, as you basically sit on the front axle, which gives you a really strange feeling and is very different to racing cars. It’s a lot harder to feel what’s going on in the back, which you have to learn over the years.”
Kiss learnt the ropes quickly though and scored his first win in 2011 in Jarama and followed up with double wins again in Jarama and Le Mans Bugatti the following year. In 2013 he finished fourth in the standings and by 2014 he was a major threat to the established drivers, winning the title with nine victories.
“2014 was a great year and it was also a difficult year,” said the Hungarian. “At the time MAN still had different levels of engines. I still remember that Jochen and Antonio had the highest level of engines and my engine was one level lower. We were not expecting to fight for the championship, but we did it.”
He defended his title brilliantly in 2015 with a record-breaking campaign in which he scored a remarkable 19 race wins.
Kiss was on the way to the hat-trick in 2016, but to the surprise of many, Kiss elected to change teams and switched to join the tankpool24-Racing squad, where he finished fifth in the standings with his Mercedes-Benz challenger.
In 2017 Kiss stayed at tankpool24-Racing where he had his eye on that third title. Despite being a dominant force and consistently one of the top qualifiers throughout the season, he only finished third in the final standings. In the two years that followed, Kiss’ struggles continued and with only one race win and not a single pole position the Hungarian’s urge for change was imminent.
The tables turned in 2020 when Kiss started talks with Mr. Révész, owner of the Hungarian Révész Group. “I had already known him for a few years, as he was sponsoring the Hungarian round of the Championship,” said Norbert.“Mr. Révész always came to the grid and talked to me when I was still racing in a Mercedes. He said ‘Norbi, one day when I will decide that we join, we'll build a team and you will win again’. And I said, okay, Mr Révész let’s do it, I’m ready.”
After a few weeks, Mr. Révész made the decision: they joined forces to build the brand-new Révész Racing team and with a delayed season start due to the pandemic, they manage to build a very competitive fire-red MAN truck. The team's debut year was strong, with Kiss scoring four wins and two podiums, re-establishing himself as one of the main contenders.
Kiss utterly dominated the 2021 season with an incredible pace, securing 10 out of 12 possible pole positions and 11 wins. Continuing his impressive performance into 2022, Kiss was yet again in a league of his own, claiming his fourth Goodyear FIA ETRC title with 16 race wins.
His 2023 title defence started with a heartbreak, as Kiss suffered a mechanical failure at the season opening race in Misano. Putting the set-back aside, the Hungarian bounced back and delivered unwavering consistency and exceptional racing skills as the season went on. With five races to spare, he secured his fifth Goodyear FIA ETRC title at Le Mans.
“I’m very happy, it’s a very nice moment to win the championship with a victory, which was hard fought as I lost the lead in the beginning,” said Kiss. “I would like to say a big thank you to my team Révész Racing and our team owner, Mr. Révész. They all put in a lot of effort, time and money to make this happen, I am really thankful to them.”