Three podium positions for Jochen Hahn on Slovakia Ring
Achieving three podium positions and a fourth rank at the 4th round of running FIA European Truck Racing Championship, Jochen Hahn added a total of 40 points to his account. Since Spielberg, this has been the best result the Iveco pilot achieved at this year’s season so far.
Indeed, the longest circuit in truck racing - summing up to almost 6 kilometers or 3.7 miles – was unknown territory for almost all of the pilots. With summer weather and track temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius (113 °F), some 25 000 spectators saw quite some race action throughout the race days – Saturday and Sunday. Before that, however, the weekend started off with press and VIP rides and free practice sessions on Friday - a perfect opportunity for the teams and pilots to familiarize with the peculiarities of the unknown course.
Among these special features are the – for truck racing – pretty extreme length and the long high-speed sections as well as the long bends and fast curves.
The Hungarian Mercedes pilot Norbert Kiss, however, knows the track inside out. Consequently, him winning the first pole position of the weekend – ranking ahead of the Spanish pilot Antonio Albacete (MAN), the Czech race driver Adam Lacko (Buggyra Freightliner) and Jochen Hahn (Iveco) – came as no real surprise.
Jochen got off with a great start ranking second right behind Kiss. Albacete soon fell behind. As a result, the chasing pack consisted of the Iveco pilot from Altensteig (Germany), Adam Lacko and Jochen’s compatriot Steffi Halm on MAN. In the end, there was no way to beat the Hungarian truck racer. Jochen thus focused on defending and keeping his second rank. Shortly before ending the race, however, Lacko prevailed. Steffi Halm finished fourth, Albacete fifth.
Right at the early stages of the second race of the day, the Spanish pilot catapulted his truck to the very top – with Steffi sticking to his rear bumper. Jochen Hahn, Adam Lacko and Norbert Kiss started chasing the leading duo in the course of the race. Eventually, the fights among the chasers prevailed. Antonio Albacete took the victory, Steffi Halm ranked second – and there was no way to stop them. The battle for the third rank, however, turned into a thrilling triple-header. In the end, the Czech pilot prevailed. Right behind Jochen, Kiss finished fifth. As he was given a 10-second penalty for overspeeding in the aftermath of the race, he finally ranked 8th on the race results.
On Sunday, Jochen Hahn won the pole position by a hairs breadth - being just 8 hundredth of a second faster than Kiss. Albacete and Lacko completed the second row on the grid.
As the race went off, the Iveco pilot from Altensteig stayed just in front of Mercedes pilot Kiss. On the inside lane, however, Albacete pressed forward. At the next right-hand bend, the Spanish MAN was forced more and more onto the outside track. Jochen had to give him some space thus clearing the path on the inside lane. Kiss jumped at the chance and pulled ahead of both of the wranglers. After that, there was no way to stop the Hungarian truck racer from winning the race. But the fight for the remaining podium position was still up in the air. In the end, Albacete finished second while Jochen successfully defended the third position against Lacko’s incessant attacks – all the way across the finish line.
At the last race of the weekend, Jochen once again got off with a great start - although Steffi Halm performed even better. Right at the first bend, she fought her truck up to the top. On third rank, Jochen closely followed Sascha Lenz, the MAN pilot who started the race from the pole position thanks to the reversed gird. Jochen had to fight hard for some laps until he finally managed to pass Lenz. In the meanwhile, Steffi had successfully increased the gap towards her chasers. There was no way to endanger her imminent victory in any way. Nonetheless, a tough battle for the remaining podium positions arose among the chasing pack. Towards the end of the race, Kiss’ Mercedes almost stuck to the rear bumper of Jochen’s Iveco. Thanks to his wealth of experience, however, the four-time European champion from Altensteig successfully defended his second position – until the end.
What’s more, the “Die Bullen von Iveco-Magirus” (lit.: the bulls on Iveco Magirus) team -consisting of Jochen Hahn and his Iveco brand mate Gerd Körber - managed to rank third twice and second once thus earning some additional points for the FIA team championship.
On the driver standings, Adam Lacko remains on top with a total of 182 points. Runner-up Norbert Kiss (139 points) is followed by Jochen Hahn (135 points) and Steffi Halm (133 points) - now on 4th position.
On Sunday evening Jochen reviewed the race weekend. He wasn’t too unhappy after all: “Actually, I didn’t really know, what to expect. I knew, the circuit is a long one - in fact, a pretty long one for us. Usually each race is about 12 laps; this time it was just eight. And it’s a fast track, too. So, one of the main questions was if the tires would be able to cope with the extreme strains placed on them. Well, they did. And in the end, things worked out great.
Of course, we all knew Norbert Kiss knows the track like the palm of his hand. He knows every stone and every bend on the circuit. So, his two victories didn’t really surprise me at all. Even so, I’m happy I managed to stand up to Adam Lacko. He also knew the circuit already. And yet Adam didn’t earn a single point more than I did. As you know, we’re now starting a long break. This gives us and our Iveco colleagues a chance to think about ways to get our trucks even faster. After all, there are still 5 race weekends after the recess. In a perfect world, this gives each driver the chance to earn another 300 points - at a max. As you see, the outcome of the championship remains unclear.”
The 5th round of this year’s FIA European Truck Racing Championship will take place from August 25th to 27th on Hungaroring close to the Hungarian capital Budapest.