Fantastic season opening for Jochen Hahn in Misano
With a total of 42,000 spectators on site, brilliant summer weather and track temperatures above 50°C, the 2018 season of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship (short: ETRC) started off on Misano World Circuit close to the Italian Adriatic coast – an extremely successful race weekend for Jochen Hahn and his team. On both days, the Iveco pilot won the first races –i.e. Those ones with doubled score for the winners. But "Die Bullen von Iveco Magirus" (English: "the bulls on Iveco Magirus"), the team consisting of Jochen Hahn and his brand Iveco colleague Steffi Halm, also reached the podium a total of three times – twice even ranking first.
On Friday, press rides were scheduled for the first time in Misano. In return, there was an addition one-hour training session. Team Hahn Racing highly appreciated this opportunity to test different set-ups.
And the efforts apparently paid off: At the top-ten Super Pole on Saturday morning, Jochen clearly achieved the fastest lap time thus getting hold of the pole position of the first race of the season. At the beginning of the race, his Iveco shared the first row on the grid with Antonio Albacete's MAN – that's a total of seven championship titles in one row. Jochen clearly won the duel at the start and managed to increase the gap towards his chasers. And yet, his great performance was of little use for the Swabian racer. The race was stopped already at the second lap as one of his competitors' trucks was leaking oil and diesel which caught fire as it dropped onto the hot brake disks. Oil spread across the track caused another truck to drift into the guardrail. Cleaning the track seemed to last forever.
With a delay of some 50 minutes, the race was finally restarted. This time, Jochen dominated the race even more impressively. There was no doubt about his perfect start-to-finish victory. Albacete finished second. He was followed by the Czech defending champion Adam Lacko (Freightliner) and the Hungarian Mercedes pilot Norbert Kiss. In the aftermath, the Spanish pilot received a 20-second penalty for overspeeding causing him to drop back to fourth position with Lacko ranking second and Kiss third. When Kiss was finally disqualified for underweight, Albacete ranked up to the third position on the podium again.
Jochen's teammate Steffi Halm didn't get to participate at the Super Pole as a stone hit her windshield. And when the race was restarted, she started from the pit lane after changing a tire during the interruption. Throughout the race, however, she managed to rank up to fourth position thus bringing the team the first rank on the FIA team podium.
At the second race on Saturday, i.e. the race with reversed grid of the top eight, MAN pilot Sascha Lenz achieved his first victory at a FIA ETRC race. While the French pilot Anthony Janiec (MAN) ranked second, he braked his direct chasers – Lacko, Hahn and Kiss – a little. He successfully fended off any attempt to pass him. With only two laps left to go, Lacko finally managed to get hold of the second rank. Jochen and Kiss had to line up behind Janiec thus finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
Steffi Halm finished eighth. This time, the bulls on Iveco Magirus ranked second on the team podium.
Sunday once again started off pretty promising. With an outstanding advantage over Kiss and Steffi Halm, Jochen once again won the Super Pole. And even at the subsequent race, the pilot from Altensteig seemed equally predominant and achieved another perfect start-to-finish victory. Right at the start, his teammate got hold of the second rank as she prevailed over the Hungarian double champion. The bulls on Iveco Magirus thus achieved the highest possible score at the team standings.
At the final race, however, Jochen wasn't that lucky anymore.He had to start the race from eighth position and dropped back even further at the skirmish at the early stages of the race. On the top position, the British MAN pilot Ryan Smith used his pole position – resulting from the reversed grid – to increase and foster his lead lap by lap. Lenz and Albacete followed him keeping a "safety gap" in between. It was clear who would rank on the podium, but yet a tough fight arouse about the fourth position. Iveco pilot André Kursim had to fend off the attacks of nominally superior opponents: Kiss, Halm, Reinert and soon also Hahn, who managed to rank up to eighth position.
And yet the young German truck racer didn't give in and fended off any attacks. Only just before the end, Kiss and Halm managed to pass the yellow Iveco. Reinert and Jochen lined up closely behind Kursim, but the latter finally prevailed. The three trucks crossed the finish line within just one second. In the end, Jochen had to stick to eighth position at the last race.
With a total of 50 – out of a maximum of 60 possible – points gained at the FIA ranking, he still had a fantastic race weekend. Jochen Hahn clearly leads the FIA overall standings followed by Steffi Halm (34), Albacete (29), Lenz (27), Lacko (26), Kiss (25) and Reinert (18).
With a total of 88 points gained, the bulls on Iveco Magirus also clearly lead the team standings.
"I am more than happy," Jochen said on Sunday evening. "We didn't really know, where we stand. Accordingly, we were all a little nervous. Being that good made us pretty happy, but we must not forget, it was the great dedication of my team and of our sponsor making it possible in first place. Thank you all by heart!"
The second round of the FIA ETRC will take place from July 15 to 17 on Hungaroring close to Budapest.