With almost 56 000 spectators on site, the French Circuit Bugatti in Le Mans hosted the 24 Heures Camions – and the 8th round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship – under nice late-summer weather conditions.
Iveco pilot Jochen Hahn came to the circuit in central France ranking second on the FIA overall standings and willing to – at least – keep this rank after the weekend, too.
24 Heures Camions is a classic 2-day event. The free trainings start on Saturday morning. Afterwards, the qualifyings and the Super Pole decide about the starting grid. The schedule is tight and there is hardly any time left for modifications.
At the first qualifying, Jochen sensed some vibrations of the cabin – and he wasn’t really happy about finishing 7th either. At the subsequent Super Pole of the top ten pilots, he still managed to push his truck onto the 4th position on the starting grid of the first race.
With a great start, the race driver from Altensteig (Germany) shot his truck right up to the second rank – sticking to the back of the truck of polesetter Steffi Halm. Jochen tried to pass the MAN of the Reinert Racing pilot several times, but the only lady participating at the truck-racing championship didn’t show any weakness and completed the race without any mistakes. The Hungarian pilot Norbert Kiss managed to close up to the leading duo. In the end, however, he had to stick to third rank – joining Steffi Halm and Jochen Hahn on the podium.
Thanks to the regulations reversing the grid of the top-8 finishers of the previous race, Jochen’s “Die Bullen von Iveco Magirus” teammate Gerd Körber started the second race on Saturday from the pole position.
He took the lead from the very start prevailing over the Spanish pilot Antonio Albacete (MAN), Norbert Kiss and Jochen Hahn waiting for his chance to attack. The leading trio fought some tough battles. Of course, Jochen didn’t want to get involved in these quarrels; he rather observed the happening waiting for his chance to pass them. And in deed, at the last lap, sparks were about to fly. With Körber on top, Albacete attacked the leader thus slightly pushing him off the track. Kiss took his chance, passed both of the trucks and took the victory – too late for Jochen to benefit from this situation. In the end, he finished 4th following Albacete and Körber who completed the podium – a good but yet ungrateful result.
Having ranked second at the team classification of the first race on Saturday, “Die Bullen von Iveco Magirus” ranked on the top of the team podium this time.
Sunday started off with a big surprise: Sascha Lenz won the first Super Pole of his truck-racing career pushing his MAN to the very top. As the race went off, the Czech Buggyra pilot Adam Lacko and polesetter Lenz flew off like rockets heading for the first bend. Only there, Lacko prevailed relegating his rival to the second position.
Jochen started off well passing Kiss right away. Lined up like a string of pearls, the leading four completed one lap after another. Towards the end of the race, Kiss tried to put Hahn under pressure, but Jochen fended off all of his competitor’s attacks. Following Adam Lacko and Sascha Lenz, he thus completed the podium ranking third.
At the last race, his teammate Gerd Körber once again started from the first row on the grid while Jochen himself started from the third row. Once more, he got away well ranking up two positions right at the start. On the top of the field, Gerd Körber once again took the lead – with Steffi Halm following him closely. Thanks to the quarrel at the start, she had managed to increase the gap towards her chasers. Throughout the race, Jochen also managed to rank up to third position. However, there was no way to endanger the leading duo. He thus completed the purely German podium consisting of Gerd Körber, Steffi Halm and Jochen Hahn – ranking third.
On Suday, “Die Bullen von Iveco Magirus” once again ranked on the team podium of both races – third at the first race and on the top again at the last one.
With a total of 300 points, Jochen kept his second rank on the overall standings. He now ranks 45 points behind Adam Lacko toping the standings and 16 points ahead of Norbert Kiss ranking third.
“Racing in Le Mans is always something very special. But standing on the podium a total of three times with such an atmosphere is even more special. This experience alone would have made it worth coming here. With regard to the championship, I’m focusing on keeping and defending my second rank. Even if Adam failed completely from now on, it would be tough to snatch away the title from him – and after all, he really deserves winning, too. So, we’re really looking forward to an exciting final in Jarama.”
The final of this year’s season of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship will take place on Circuito del Jarama at the gates of the Spanish capital Madrid in about two weeks – on October 7 and 8.