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The 32nd Truck Grand Prix on Nürburgring and 3rd round of this year’s FIA European Truck Racing Championship with a total of 115,000 spectators on site was once again marked by the typical weather conditions of the Eifel region – more or less heavy rainfall. In the end, the highlight of the truck racing season was even stopped prematurely on Sunday afternoon – although the cause was not the weather, but a small defective injector of one of the race trucks participating at the Mittelrhein Cup. The race track was coated with loads of diesel which couldn’t be removed sufficiently.
This year’s Truck Grand Prix was a four-day event again. Thursday was packed with press/VIP rides and a one-hour training session. As copilots, some of the guests of Team Hahn Racing also experienced some thrilling laps inside the new Iveco race truck.
Already on Friday, some free practices, the first qualifying and even the first Super Pole of the top ten were scheduled. Jochen won the Super Pole and thus the pole position for the first race on Saturday. Next to him, the Hungarian Mercedes pilot Norbert Kiss completed the first row of the grid. The Czech pilot Adam Lacko (Buggyra Freightliner) and the triple European champion Antonio Albacete from Spain (MAN) started from the second row.
Right before the start of the race, heavy rainfall soaked Nürburgring. And it wouldn’t really stop raining – with varying intensity – throughout the race either. The race track was extremely slippery. As a consequence, the stewards started the race with two inaugural laps and under yellow-flag conditions – that is, no passing.
Throughout the first half of the race, Jochen successfully defended his leading position. In the end, however, he wasn’t able to fend off the constant attacks of Lacko and Kiss. He had to let them go. Especially the Buggyra pilot seemed to be immune to the bad weather conditions as he headed towards a safe victory. Jochen finished third on the podium, right next to Kiss.
At the second race, Jochen’s “Die Bullen von IVECO Magirus” teammate, Gerd Körber, started from the pole position. Although the track was still pretty wet, this time, the stewards started the race with a single inaugural lap. And there was no way stopping the thrilling race action. At first, polesetter Körber managed to stay on top. He was followed by Jochen Hahn, Steffi Halm (MAN) and Adam Lacko who ranked up from eight to four like a rocket. And the Czech pilot wouldn’t give in. After just 5 laps, he had managed to pass all trucks in front of him – and he would stay on top all the way across the finish line.
The French MAN pilot Anthony Janiec participating at the TGP as a race-by-race pilot also performed well and seemed to cope well with the unfavorable weather conditions, too. Having finally passed both of the Iveco trucks, he finished second on the podium. Closely following his teammate Körber finishing third, Jochen ranked fourth – a good but yet ungrateful result. Even on Sunday, the weather gods had no mercy with the truck racers and their fans. The unpleasant weather conditions remained. Nevertheless, Jochen achieved a great lap time at the Super Pole. Being just 51 thousandth of a second slower than Kiss, he secured himself the second position on the grid. Albacete and Lacko once again started from the second row.
Right on time for the start of the race, rainfall set in again, too. It was no heavy rain, but still enough to cause pretty greasy track conditions again. The race resulted in a glissade with trucks sliding all over the place. Kiss, Albacete, Hahn and Lacko sled into the first bend at the Mercedes Arena as if their trucks were tied to each other. MAN pilot Sascha Lenz took the chance and joined in, too. Followed by Albacete, Lenz, Hahn and Lacko, Kiss stayed on top. After a few hundret meters, Albacete lost control over his truck. As he spun off, he took along the Lenz MAN, too.
Jochen and Lacko managed to evade them. Nonetheless, the Czech pilot soon passed Jochen’s Iveco. After a minor slip, Kiss was also beaten by the strong Buggyra. Actually, there was no one really coping well with the greasy track except for Adam Lacko. What’s more, apparently there was a thin diesel layer on the race track, too. As a consequence, Jochen even fell short of points from time to time but still managed to fight his truck up to 7th rank again in the end.
With Lacko on top, Kiss finished second and Janiec – who turned out to cope well with rainy weather conditions – third. The second Mercedes pilot, André Kursim, finished fourth and thus yet before the Czech Buggyra pilot David Vršecký, Steffi Halm and Jochen Hahn. Gerd Körber ranked eighth – i.e. pole position for the final race. As a result, “Die Bullen von Iveco-Magirus” would have shared the first row on the grid for the first time ever if the final race had not been canceled.
Of course, Jochen regretted the cancellation of the last race: “That would have been a unique and new set-up. I strongly believe, one of us ‘Iveco-Magirus bulls’ would have surely ranked on the podium. It’s true, the rain did us some harm, but we’re still happy. We’re still a little weak on wet tracks, no doubt, we still have to work on that. On dry tracks, however, we are definitely among the leaders.“
Lacko still leads the overall rankings with a total of 142 points. Steffi Halm (96 points) is second, Jochen (95 points) ranks fourth and is followed by Kiss (88), Albacete (72), Körber (72) and Lenz (59). In just about two weeks, the next event is marked on the calendar: On July 14th - 16th, the 4th round of the 2017 FIA European Truck Racing Championship takes place on Slovakia Ring.