Jochen Hahn extends his lead on the overall standings with two more victories on Slovakia Ring
This weekend, the third run of this year's FIA European Truck Racing Championship took place on Slovakia Ring, some 40 km east of the Slovakian capital Bratislava and with some 19,000 spectators on site. Considering his predominant performance and superior victories, the first races of each racing day – i.e. those with doubled score for the winner – were like a victory parade for Jochen Hahn, the Iveco pilot from Altensteig (Germany).
The racing weekend started off on Friday with some press/VIP rides and free training sessions – all in all, three and a half hours out on the track. This allowed the pilots and their teams to try out different settings and set-ups. In terms of truck racing, Slovakia Ring offers quite some peculiarities: Its length of almost 6 kilometers makes it the longest track of the season. With an average speed of 130 km/h, it is the fastest track for the truck racers. Combining both of these facts with the special surface of the race track, it is also extremely tire wearing. If, on top of that, the temperatures rise, the tires can actually become a serious issue towards the end of the race.
And this weekend, it was quite hot. Some 35°C were measured on Saturday, and even on Sunday – with cloudy sky – the temperatures rose to more than 30 °C. Rather than the air temperatures, however, the tacks temperatures are even more decisive for the pilots, if the sun burns down on the track. On Saturday, the track temperatures reached up to 54 °C at the second race.
Earlier in the morning, when the temperatures were not yet that high, the truck racers met for the qualifying and the Super Pole of the top-10. The result: Jochen secured his fourth pole position of the season – out of five possible ones.
At the subsequent race, the Iveco pilot continued performing as he did at the Super Pole: The five-time European champion prevailed at the start and was about to win the race with a sovereign start-to-finish victory. After just half a lap, however, the race was stopped and canceled as one of the race trucks called for recovery after ending up in the gravel at the second bend.
With temperatures of almost 60 °C inside the cabins, the trucks gathered back on the starting grid for the restart. With a delay of almost 20 minutes, the race was restarted.
This time, Steffi Halm - Jochen's teammate at "the bulls on Iveco" – prevailed at the start. Throughout the first lap, however, Jochen managed to push his truck up to the top position. Once he led the field, he headed for a perfect victory – and achieved the fastest lap of the race at the same time. Steffi Halm almost felt the breath of the Czech Buggyra Freightliner pilot Adam Lacko closely chasing her. And yet she prevailed by a wee bit thus securing the second rank. Of course, "the bulls on Iveco Magirus" clearly won the team ranking.
At the second race of the day, i.e. the race with reversed grid, Jochen started from 8th position. At first, the Iveco pilot René Reinert took the lead. At some tough battles throughout the race, however, his truck suffered a tire damage and a broken rim - forcing him to withdraw from the race.In the course of the race, Jochen managed to rank up a couple of positions. In the end, he finished ranking fifth. MAN pilot Sascha Lenz won the race with Steffi Halm and Adam Lacko completing the podium.This time, "the bulls on Iveco" finished second on the team podium.
On Sunday morning, the sky was slightly cloudy. And yet the temperatures quickly rose to 30 °C. The good news: At least, the track temperatures remained quite normal this time. Once more, Jochen won the pole position - the fifth pole position out of six possible ones so far this season.
At the first race of the day, Jochen got off with a great start - unlike the Hungarian Mercedes pilot Norbert Kiss completing the first row on the grid next to him. The two-times European champion quickly dropped back to fifth position while René Reinert and Steffi Halm ranked up to line up behind Jochen. The outcome: an Iveco only podium with Jochen, René and Steffi on the steps – and all winning trucks "made by Hahn Racing". Of course, "the bulls on Iveco" once again won the team classification as well.
At the last race of the weekend, Jochen started from eighth position on the grid again. And once more the name of the game was to stay calm at the second race of the day to avoid any tough battles or severe damages. After all, it's just a matter of a few points to be won or lost at these races.
Accordingly, Jochen stayed behind the front line, avoided any heavy fights and battles in front of him and finished up 7th. In the end, his main rival for the title scored just three points more at this race.
The victory went to the Spanish pilot Antonio Albacete with Norbert Kiss and Sascha Lenz completing the podium. At the end of the fourth race, "the bulls on Iveco Magirus" finished on the team podium for the fourth time – although this time, they ended up on third position.
With a total of 144 points, Iveco pilot Jochen Hahn continues leading the FIA overall driver standings followed by his teammate Steffi Halm (103 points), Norbert Kiss (95 points) and Adam Lacko (90 points).
Highly satisfied but still quite thoughtful, Jochen Hahn stated on Sunday evening: "This is actually getting somewhat scary: an advantage of 54 points over Adam Lacko, who is considered to be my main rival, after just three race weekends. It's true, Adam did have some bad luck, but this could happen to anyone - including myself. To minimize the risk of being involved in a serious crash, I will continue focusing on the Super Poles and on starting the subsequent races from the top position. With this, I can take it much easier at the second race of each racing day. For now, we're looking forward to our home race at the Truck Grand Prix on Nürburgring." The next run of this year's FIA ETRC will take place in just about two weeks – on July 19th to 21st.