Despite a double victory for Jochen Hahn and his team “Die Bullen von IVECO Magirus” (the bulls on IVECO Magirus) – consisting of Hahn and his Iveco teammate Gerd Körber – at the second race on Saturday, the second round of this year’s FIA European Truck Racing Championship on Misano World Circuit at the Italian Adria with some 40,000 spectators on site was not really the weekend the title holder had expected.
And yet the offset wasn’t too bad, actually.
At a very close qualifying and an even closer SuperPole on Saturday, Jochen literally fought hard and finished 3rd. In the end, he ranked just a tenth of a second behind polesetter Adam Lacko (CZE) on a Buggyra Freightliner. And Lacko himself was just a thousandth of a second faster than the Hungarian runner-up Nobert Kiss (on Mercedes-Benz).
As the first race was started, Jochen primarily focused on sticking to his third rank as the MAN race trucks piloted by his compatriot Steffi Halm and the Spanish pilot Antonio Albacete practically stuck to the rear bumper of his Iveco.
In the meanwhile, Lacko and Kiss fought for the top position at the top of the field. In the end, the Czech race driver prevailed.
With very little left to finish the race and confident of ranking third, Jochen Hahn all the sudden experienced technical problems with his Iveco race truck. There was no way to even try to prevent Steffi Halm and Antonio Albacete from passing him. In the end, he finished 5th.
Accordingly, he was to start the next race from position 4 – that is, from the second row on the grid. In view of his main rivals starting even further back on the grid, that’s actually no bad position for the Swabian pilot.
The Portugese pilot José Rodrigues, who had been highly successful in Spielberg with a surprise win, soon ranked on top. But Jochen’s “Die Bullen von IVECO Magirus” teammate, Gerd Körber, soon managed to pass him anyways. Jochen also used his chance and passed Rodrigues as well. Both his truck and the defending champion performed great. Accordingly, Körber had no chance to prevent Hahn from pushing to the front. Once in the lead, he increased the gap towards his chasers and achieved a clear victory.
Steffi Halm also managed to pass Körber shortly after. With the same dedication as Jochen, she got hold of the second podium position. Tough battles were fought for the third rank though. Gerd Körber was beaten three times. In the end, he finished sixth behind Kiss, Lacko and Albacete.
On Sunday, the second and final day of the racing event, only Lacko prevailed over Jochen at the SuperPole – beating his lap time by not even two tenth of a second. The first Sunday race thus promised to be a highly exciting one.
Right from the start, however, Jochen’s Iveco once again faced technical problems. Having completed the fourth lap, Jochen thus had a pit stop. A quick reset and off he went again.
Still, most of the field had already passed him by then. Hahn found himself out of the ranks scoring points. Jochen started chasing and passing his competitors one by one. As a result, he finished the race ranking 8th – thus winning the pole position for the last race. Once again, Lacko won the race with Kiss and Albacete completing the podium.
Basically, the set-up for the last race was ideal for Team Hahn Racing, a victory or at least a podium rank were almost safe – and then there was a huge disappointment: The crew once again focused on the technical problem with Jochen’s truck – and found there was no way to fix them before starting the final race.
Consequently, Lacko achieved yet another victory followed by Steffi Halm and Norbert Kiss.
Scoring just 21 points throughout the weekend, the result was pretty disappointing for Jochen Hahn and his team. With a total of 72 points, he now ranks third on the overall standings and thus not only behind Lacko (92 points), but also behind Steffi Halm (80 points).
No wonder, the pilot from Altensteig was a little down afterwards. Nonetheless, he also admitted: “I do actually like Misano World Circuit, the whole event and the weather being nice most of the times. And yet, I’ve never been too successful on this circuit. Therefore, my expectations for this event haven’t been too high either. Still, dropping out at the last race – especially in view of such a promising set-up – does hurt, of course! In four weeks, we’ll race at home on Nürburgring. By then, everything needs to be all set again. I’m sure we will fix all problems by then.”
The Truck Grand Prix on Nürburgring is the third round of the 2017 FIA European Truck Racing Championship. It takes place between June 30 and July 2.