Jochen Hahn increases his lead on the overall standings
At the 6th round of this year's FIA European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC), Iveco pilot Jochen Hahn and his team experienced a weekend much to their liking.
Jochen achieved a podium position at each of the four races and so did "the bulls on Iveco Magirus", the team consisting of Steffi Halm and Jochen Hahn scoring at the FIA ETRC team championship. What's more, Jochen was even able to increase his lead on the overall standing. With a total of 280 points, he now ranks 66 points ahead of the runner-up.
With beautiful late-summer weather and a total of 12,500 paying – entrance was free for the inhabitants of Heusden-Zolder – spectators on site, the event started off with a long race-truck parade to the center of the Belgian village on Friday afternoon.
On Saturday, things became somewhat more serious. But Jochen remained calm and, most importantly, he didn't stress himself. With the Spanish MAN pilot winning the Super Pole of the top ten, Hahn completed the first row on the grid as the first race started off. Albacete jumped away and took the lead. Jochen followed him closely when his Iveco was hit and slightly thrown off the track. In the end, however, he just had to let one truck pass: the Buggyra Freightliner of his main competitor Adam Lacko from the Czech Republic. Albacete finally won the race ahead of Lacko and Hahn. As a result, Jochen's advantage on the overall standings "shrunk" to 45 points. That's a loss, he would surely overcome. Steffi Halm finished 7th. This time, "the bulls on Iveco Magirus" ranked third at the team championship.
Due to the reversed grid, Jochen started the second race from 6th position on the grid. Right at the start of the race, he managed to rank up two positions and then started chasing MAN pilot René Reinert. His teammate Steffi Halm was leading the field followed by yet another Iveco race truck driven by André Kursim. Hahn and Reinert fought a close and enduring battle for the third rank. It took Jochen six laps until he finally managed to pass the MAN; an historic moment and a very special picture: three Iveco race trucks ranking on the top three positions. Jochen finally even passed Kursim's race truck as well. In the end, there were three Iveco pilots standing on the podium: Steffi Halm, Jochen Hahn and André Kursim – in this order. And there is yet another fact making the team extremely proud: All of these three race trucks were built at the Hahn workshop.
As a matter of course, "the bulls on Iveco Magirus" once again won the team podium as well.
On Sunday, Jochen won the pole position at an exciting and very close Super Pole qualifying with Antonio Albacete, Sascha Lenz and Adam Lacko following him closely. The pilot of the blue and white Iveco race truck took the lead right away, increased it throughout the race and finally achieved a perfect start-to-finish victory. Lenz managed to stay ahead of Albacete for several laps, but the Spaniard wouldn't give in and finally reconquered his position to finish second on the podium. Fighting for the third rank, Lenz made a little faux pas – and Lacko good use of this opportunity as he passed him. As a result, the Czech pilot did finally finish third thus completing the podium. "The bulls on Iveco Magirus" teammate Steffi Halm finished sixth. This meant yet another victory for the team.
At the last race of the weekend, the MAN of the Portuguese pilot José Rodrigues started from the pole position while Jochen, having won the previous race, started from 8th position on the grid. Reinert was the first one to chase the Portuguese pilot. For some reason, however, his MAN was not performing as it should while Rodrigues increased his lead. When Reinert finally dropped out due to a technical failure, Rodrigues had already managed to build up a quite considerable gap towards his chasers. Now it was Steffi Halm ranking behind him. Jochen got off with a good start, ranked up to 5th position at once and prevailed over Lenz shortly after thus snatching away the 4th position. With Reinert dropping out, the pilot from Altensteig was already heading for a podium position. Together with his teammate Steffi Halm, the Iveco pilot started closing up the gap towards Rodrigues. Although they managed to close up to him, they didn't prevail over the Portuguese pilot. With an advantage of just four tenths of a second over Steffi Halm, José Rodrigues thus achieved his first victory of the season. Jochen seemed to be more than happy ranking third – especially since Lacko finished seventh thus earning four points less than the Iveco pilot. Again, "the bulls on Iveco Magirus" won the team championship.
Jochen Hahn continues leading the overall standings with now 280 points and an advantage of 66 points over Lacko (214) who is followed by Albacete (179), the Hungarian Mercedes pilot Norbert Kiss (175), Sascha Lenz (160) and Steffi Halm (152 points).
"I think, some fans on the stands might have been a little confused when I did some burnouts after the third race despite having finished second and even having won a race earlier", Jochen Hahn said highly pleased on Sunday evening. "In fact, there was a certain tension eased at exactly that moment. After all, I have a lot of different memories connected with Zolder. Going into the last two rounds with an advantage of 66 points is highly motivating on the one hand and somewhat calming on the other hand."
In about two weeks, i.e. on the last weekend of September, the 7th and second-last round of this year's FIA European Truck Racing Championship will take place on Circuit Bugatti, the famous race track rich in tradition of the French town of Le Mans.