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Round 7 of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship taking place on Circuit Zolder in Belgium started off with some heavy rainfall. While both pilots and visitors enjoyed top racing weather on the actual racing days of the weekend,
the city parade to the downtown of Heusden-Zolder – scheduled for Thursday – had to be canceled due to the rain.
And even on Friday, during both of the free training sessions, the clouds opened their gates from time to time resulting in lap times some 15 to 20 seconds slower than usual – and thus now allowing any conclusions about the performance of both trucks and drivers.
Saturday weather was all the contrary: Only a few clouds marked the sky, sun was shining and there was no rain at all. As the top ten competed at the Super Pole, Jochen Hahn, the race driver from Altensteig, pushed his truck onto the third position on the grid – right behind the Czech pilot Adam Lacko (Buggyra Freightliner) and the Hungarian Mercedes pilot Norbert Kiss.
Soon after the race started, Kiss passed the Buggyra thus taking the lead. In the meanwhile, Jochen stuck to his 3rd rank he successfully defended. At the fourth lap, however, the gearbox of Lacko’s Freightliner failed and blocked. His race truck stopped without any prior warning. Jochen and Sascha Lenz (MAN) following him close up crashed into the obstacle. While Lacko dropped out after his transmission failed, both Hahn and Lenz were luckier. Having overcome the moment of shock, both of them continued the race and finally ranked second and third. Kiss won the race.
Due to reverse grid, Jochen started the second race of the day from the 7th position on the grid. His “Die Bullen von Iveco-Magirus” teammate Gerd Körber started from the pole position with the Portuguese pilot José Rodrigues (MAN) and the German Mercedes pilot André Kursim following him. Both of them passed Körber right at the start of the race. At a risky maneuver shortly after, Kursim also passed Rodrigues taking the lead. Staying on top all the way across the line, he thus achieved his very first victory at the FIA ETRC.
While Körber dropped back, Jochen was able to rank up to position 4. With Kursim on top, his teammate Norbert Kiss and the Spanish MAN pilot Antonio Albacete completed the podium.
On Saturday, “Die Bullen von Iveco-Magirus” achieved a second and a third rank.
At the Sunday Super Pole, Jochen once again won the 3rd position on the grid. Lacko started from the pole position. He took the lead as the race went off. And between him and Jochen, Albacete tried to defend his position. By the time the race driver from Altensteig finally managed to pass the MAN, Lacko had increased the gap in such a manner as to force the Iveco chasing him to stick to the second rank.
Albacete, however, had to fight hard in order to keep his truck on the third position. He crossed the line just 4 tenths of a second earlier than his chaser Steffi Halm (also MAN) who consequently ranked fourth.
At the last race of the weekend, the surprise winner of the previous day, André Kursim, started from the pole position. Jochen once again started from the 7th position. And Kursim performed strong again. He even prevailed over the experienced Czech pilot David Vršecký (Buggyra Freightliner) trying to snatch away his lead. While Vršecký had to fight hard fending off the attacks of a whole group of chasers trying to pass him, Kursim once again headed for another victory.
Jochen also formed part of this group of chasers after ranking up a position at the early stages of the race. Having completed about a third of the race, however, his truck started yelling emitting infernally loud noises. Apparently there was a loose part withing the exhaust system. Facing a loss of power, he dropped back to 9th position without any delay until his Iveco regained its composure. He crossed the line right next to his teammate Gerd Körber, but Jochen prevailed by a hairs breadth thus finishing 8th.
Kursim won the race with Vršecký and Kiss completing the podium.
“Die Bullen von Iveco-Magirus” achieved yet another second place at the team championship.
“Actually, we’re quite pleased about the outcome of the weekend. Two second ranks at the driver championship and three podium positions at the team classification are not too bad – I’ve experienced much worse here in Zolder,” Jochen stated on Sunday evening with a wink. “I’m not willing to reach for the stars, but right now, I sincerely believe we could realistically become vice champion this year. After all, we managed to stay ahead of Norbert Kiss.”
Adam Lacko still leads the overall standings in an undangered manner with a total of 311 points. Jochen ranks second with 258 points and thus 12 points ahead of Kiss.
The 8th and thus second last round of this year’s FIA European Truck Racing Championship will take place next weekend – i.e. September 23 and 24 – on Circuit Bugatti in Le Mans (France).