Jochen Hahn extends his lead with another victory and two more second ranks
Enchanted by beautiful summer weather and a wonderful atmosphere, some 117,500 spectators visited the 33rd Truck Grand Prix (TGP) on Nürburgring marking the 3rd round of this year's FIA European Truck Racing Championship. The TGP was the annual highlight of the European truck racing season – not only for Team Hahn Racing. Of course, all of the team's partners also joined Team Hahn Racing on Nürburgring. Just as Jochen Hahn and his team, they were delighted about the great successes achieved at the first races of each day providing a lot of points.
To start with, press and VIP rides were scheduled on Thursday. It was a great opportunity to enthrall several partners and representatives of sponsors as they joined Jochen on the co-driver seat of his Iveco race truck – quite an impressive experience!
On Friday, the Super Pole – of the top ten of the qualifying – turned into a real thriller. There were just thousandth of a second separating the Spanish MAN pilot Antonio Albacete and Jochen Hahn from each other. In the end, the Madrilenian race driver prevailed by a wee bit thus getting hold of the pole position for the first race – with Jochen completing the first row on the grid.
Although Jochen managed to get away with a great start, there was no way to endanger Antonio's lead. For a total of 13 laps, the probably most experienced truck racers – together, they hold a total of 7 championship titles – fought a close duel on the top of the field. As they crossed the line, Albacete prevailed by a few tenths of a second. The Hungarian pilot Norbert Kiss (Mercedes-Benz), the Czech title defender Adam Lacko (Buggyra Freightliner) and Jochen's teammate Steffi Halm followed on the ranks.
Accordingly, "The bulls on Iveco Magirus" clearly won the first rank of the team championship once again.
At the second race of the day, the top eight finishers of the previous one started with reversed grid (reversed grid regulation). Jochen thus started from the 7th position on the grid while Iveco pilot Gerd Körber, who participates as a race-by-race pilot this year, started from the pole position. The longest-serving truck racer took the lead right from the start. His Schwabentruck teammate Steffi Halm stuck to the rear bumper of his truck. It didn't take long until she passed Körber and took the lead. In the meanwhile, Jochen had managed to fight his truck up to 5th position. There were only Lacko and Kiss keeping him away from the podium ranks. There was no doubt about it, Jochen and the Hungarian pilot were noticeably faster than the Czech one – and yet, Kiss didn't get the chance to pass Lacko. So Jochen tried to pass both of them right before the short loop exit. Right at that moment, Kiss pulled over onto Jochen's lane forcing the race driver from Altensteig to evade him pulling out into the dirty part of the track. As a result, he was unable to brake properly. Jochen took the emergency exit and lost roughly 30 seconds – and consequently ended up on 12th position. Steffi Halm won the race with Körber and Lacko completing the podium and Kiss following. Again, "The bulls on Iveco Magirus" won the team championship.
At the Super Pole on Sunday morning, Jochen turned the tables. This time, he got hold of the pole position relegating Albacete to the second rank. As the race began, however, the Spaniard took revenge. He got off with a better start thus taking the lead over Jochen and the field. But his success wouldn't last for long. Already at the first lap, the Iveco pilot prevailed at a minor skirmish and reconquered the top position. The Spanish pilot got slightly off the track and joined the MAN pilot René Reinert as they passed the chicane side by side. The race driver from Cottbus prevailed, got hold of the second rank and started chasing Jochen – but there was no way to really endanger the victory of the Iveco pilot.
In the end, Reinert even had to stick to the 3rd position leaving the 2nd one for Albacete as the stewards decided his overtaking maneuver at the chicane was not compliant with the regulations. "The bulls on Iveco Magirus" once again won the top position of the team championship. The final race was with a reversed grid race again. That is, the top-8 finishers of the previous race started in reversed order.
The French race-by-race pilot Anthony Janiec won the pole position – and actually managed to keep his chasers in check. He finished the race with a classic start-to-finish victory. At first, Körber and Lacko followed on the ranks. Having started from 8th position on the grid, Jochen ranked up lap by lap. In the meanwhile, Lacko attacked Körber's truck ranking ahead of his own. As a result, the truck attacked suffered a complete breakdown. André Kursim soon took revenge on behalf of his Iveco brand mate as he passed Lacko.
A quartet consisting of Albacete, Jochen, Steffi Halm and the British race pilot Ryan Smith (MAN) followed the leading duo very closely. In the end, these 7 trucks crossed the line within less than 3 seconds.
In the aftermath, however, Halm and Smith were given a 10-second penalty for overspeed thus dropping back to 8th and 9th rank – at first. About an hour and a half after the race finished, the results were altered again. Lacko's Buggyra team had protested as they believed Kursim had passed Lacko's Freightliner under yellow-flag conditions.
Objection sustained! They were right. Kursim was given a 30-second penalty and dropped back to rank 12 while all others moved up one position. Accordingly, Jochen finished fourth.
Regardless of all that, "The bulls on Iveco Magirus" won the team championship for the fourth time othis weekend – and thus at all of the races of this huge event.
As a result, the team clearly leads the overall team standings. But Jochen also managed to extend his lead on the overall driver standings even further – scoring a total of 137 points by now. Lacko (95 pts.) ranks second and is followed by Kiss (88), Albacete (87) and Steffi Halm (86).
The 4th round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship will take place on July 14th and 15th on Slovakia Ring close to Bratislava.