With some 34,000 spectators on site, the 2nd round of the running FIA European Truck Racing Championship took place on Hungaroring close to the Hungarian capital Budapest. Following heavy rainfall on Thursday, i.e. at the day the teams built up their tents at the paddock, the weather gods were much easier on the truck racers afterwards. Throughout the days of the actual competition, there was no rain. On Sunday, there was even real summer weather with temperatures of up to 33 degrees Celsius and track temperatures of almost 60 degrees.
At the VIP/press rides in Friday and the 1-hour extra training session, the teams got the chance to try out different set-ups.
Apparently, Team Hahn Racing had chosen the right one. At the Super Pole, Jochen and his Iveco race truck won the second position on the grid for the first race. Title defender Adam Lacko (Buggyra Freightliner) won the pole position while the English truck racer Ryan Smith (MAN) started from third and the Hungarian local hero Norbert Kiss (Mercedes) from fourth position.
Polesetter Lacko prevailed at the start, but Jochen's race truck almost stuck to the rear bumper of the leading Freightliner. When the Czech pilot was distracted for a short moment, Jochen took the chance to pass him thus getting hold of the top position. When the race trucks of Kiss and Lacko touched, the Freightliner dropped back some positions and got involved in a skirmish with Smith later on. In the end, Lacko finished ninth. The four-time champion from Altensteig, however, achieved his 3rd victory at the running season.
Jochen's teammate at "the bulls on Iveco Magirus", Steffi Halm, finished third right after Kiss. The team thus clearly won the team podium.
André Kursim (Iveco) finished fourth, René Reinert (MAN) sixth. Accordingly, there were three Iveco trucks among the top 4 and a total of four Hahn-built race trucks among the first six finishers – quite impressive figures.
Having finished seventh, Smith was given a time penalty – in total one minute – in the aftermath. He thus started the second race from the back of the grid.
In return, Lacko now finished on 8th position. Due to the reversed grid, the Czech pilot started the second race of the day from the pole position whereas Jochen started from 8th position on the grid.
This time, however, Lacko didn't give in. He took the lead and stayed on top all the way across the finish line. Reinert finished second, Steffi Halm third. Jochen managed to rank up two positions thus finishing sixth. As a result, "the bulls on Iveco Magirus" team once again won a podium position – place 2 this time.
Sunday started off extremely promising. Predominantly, Jochen won the pole position for the first race of the day. With the same superiority, he achieved a perfect start-to-finish victory. Smith and Lacko won the remaining podium positions. Following Kiss, Steffi finished fifth – thus bringing about another victory for "the bulls on Iveco Magirus" at the team championship.
The final race, however, didn't work out as expected for both of the Iveco race trucks. Jochen once again started from 8th position. MAN pilot Sascha Lenz won the pole position ranking ahead of his teammate and brand colleague René Reinert. The duel at the top was a close one and when his teammate committed a minor mistake, Reinert took the lead. Not endangered, both of the MAN pilots achieved a double victory for their team.
The fight for the third podium position, however, was a quite tough one. In the meanwhile, Steffi Halm's truck had been hit hard from behind thus causing hard metal parts to push onto her rear tires. For a short moment, Jochen's teammate even fell back to the lower middle of the field. Despite smoking tires, she went on undeterred and ranked up to 9th position again.
Jochen was hit even harder, although things appeared to be working out quite well until shortly before the end. The race driver from Altensteig had ranked up to 5th position as he observed Kiss and Lacko fighting for the third rank right in front of him and with a gap of just about a truck in between. If there was any chance, he would pass both of the squabblers – when two people quarrel, a third rejoices.
Unfortunately, things turned out different: With just three laps left to go, a technical issue on his Iveco race truck forced Jochen to drop out.
Being honored – like on Saturday – for having achieved the fastest race lap, didn't really console him for this mishap.
Jochen was able to increase his lead on the FIA driver standings. With a total of 95 points by now, he leads over Steffi Halm and Norbert Kiss (both 64 points), Lacko (58), Lenz (54) and Reinert (47).
On Sunday evening Jochen said: "Despite the bad luck, I can't complain. Some others were even more unlucky. As I said before, there is a tremendous power density. Actually, there are ten drivers – that is, a female and nine male pilots – with a potential to win podium positions. Considering I got through pretty well so far with my four victories at the important 20-point races, I will surely overcome a failure at a second race with half the score. Right now, we're really looking forward to our home race on Nürburgring. The expectations of the fans will be high, so I hope we will be able to satisfy them."
The Truck Grand Prix on Nürburgring marks the third round of the 2018 FIA European Truck Racing Championship and will take place from June 29th to July 1st.