Jochen Hahn wins three podium positions on Slovakia Ring
At the 4th round of the running FIA European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC) on Slovakia Ring close to Bratislava, the race driver from Altensteig did not only achieve three podium positions, but he also managed to increase his lead on the overall standings even further.
With midsummer weather at its best, temperatures exceeding 30 °C and track temperatures partially even above 50 degrees, the weekend began with VIP and press rides taking place on Friday. These were a great opportunity for the truck racers to get acquainted with the longest – total length of almost 6 kilometers or almost 3.7 miles – and fastest track on this year's truck racing calendar.
On Saturday morning, things got serious. The Czech Buggyra Freightliner pilot Adam Lacko won the pole position followed by the Spanish race driver Antonio Albacete (MAN), Jochen Hahn and his "The bulls on Iveco Magirus" teammate Steffi Halm.
At the first race, Jochen got off with a great start leaving Lacko behind and sticking to the rear bumper of Albacete's truck which led the field. Both of the multiple-times European champions – Albacete won the title three times, Jochen four times – fought a close but fair duel. In the end, the Spanish pilot prevailed by a wee bit. MAN pilot Sascha Lenz stuck to the 3rd podium position successfully fending off Lacko's attacks and those of the Hungarian Mercedes pilot Norbert Kiss all the way until the second last lap. With just one lap left to go, however, he had to give in and finally finished 5th. Jochen's teammate Steffi Halm fell behind the top ranks already in the beginnings of the race. Involved in a turbulent tussle, her Iveco was hit as heavy as to force her to park the race truck unable to be driven any further. Nevertheless, "The bulls on Iveco Magirus" still finished second at the team ranking.
At the second race of the day, the top eight finishers of the previous one started with reversed grid. The British race pilot Shane Brereton (MAN) got hold of the pole position and used it for an unexpected start-to-finish victory. At the beginning, Jochen ranked 4th following MAN pilot René Reinert and Sascha Lenz. In the course of the race, he ranked up to second position, but Brereton blocked him effectively. There was no way past him. As a result, Jochen had to stick to the second position on the podium. Having dropped out at the previous race, his teammate Steffi Halm had to start from the back of the grid comprising 15 race trucks. Achieving the fastest lap of the race, however, she managed to rank up to 7th position during the race. As a result, the team once again ranked second.
At the warm-up session on early Sunday morning, Jochen achieved the fastest lap of the weekend on a still not too hot track and with old and used tires – thus giving evidence of the significant loss of grip caused by overly high track temperatures.
At the Super Pole of the top ten, the Iveco pilot from Altensteig won the second position on the grid right next to the polesitter Adam Lacko. Both of the closest rivals for the championship title started off well. Lacko took the lead at the first bend as he opted for the inner lane, but yet before they completed the first lap, Jochen had already reconquered the top position. In spite of the fastest lap, Lacko stuck to the back of the Iveco while Jochen completed his close but safe victory achieving his third podium position of the weekend – first place on the podium this time. Considering the increased score to be obtained at the first race of each day, this victory was particularly important for his score on the driver standings. His teammate Steffi Halm ranked third on the podium. Therefore, "The bulls on Iveco Magirus" clearly won the team ranking as well. Piloting the third Iveco race truck participating at the championship, André Kursim ranked fourth. That is, there were three Iveco race trucks among the top 4 finishers.
Due to the reversed grid, Jochen started the final race of the weekend from the eighth position on the grid. Reinert took the lead with Kiss following him closely. About halfway through the race, the Hungarian race driver passed the blue MAN and finally accomplished a pretty clear victory. The following ranks, however, were much more disputed. The group of six chasers led by Reinert with Lenz, Kursim, Hahn, Lacko and Halm following closely crossed the line within less than four seconds. When Reinert was given a 10-second penalty for overspeed, the MAN pilot dropped back to seventh position – and the rest of the group of chasers ranked up one position. This time, "The bulls on Iveco Magirus" finished third thus ranking on the podium at all of the four races of the weekend.
But Jochen also managed to extend his lead on the overall standings even further – scoring a total of 188 points by now. Lacko (131 pts.) ranks second and is followed by Kiss (121), Albacete (112) and Steffi Halm (107).
"The bulls on Iveco Magirus" also clearly lead the team standings featuring a total of 306 points.
Happy about the overall outcome, Jochen said on Sunday: "Especially at the first races of each day, i.e. at the races with increased score, we performed very well and got through rather undamaged. We did not only manage to hold our lead, but we even increased it. That's more than what I had expected in first place, but it's no reason to rest on our oars either. There will be a break prior to the next race taking place in Most in seven weeks. And we will use it to recover, but we will also use it to continue working and to realize the conclusions we drew from the first half of the season. After all, our competitors won't rest either. The last races once again proved just how close the championship actually is. Anyways, for now, we will take some days off first." The 5th round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship will take place after the summer break from August 31 to September 2 on the Czech circuit in Most.