Nogaro – This and That
24. June 2010On Monday morning, when most of the teams headed for home, the weather in Nogaro was at last in accordance with the average Central European’s idea of a summer day in Southern France – a brilliant blue sky. But the truck racers did not complain about the weekend, because the forecast had been a lot worse than the actual weather. And on their journey to Nogaro some of the teams had even witnessed part of the disastrous flash floods devastating the Var department. But in Nogaro the only thing that had to be rained off was the free practice on Friday, so that for those people who had been hoping to gain new insights into wet-weather races the recordings were practically of no real value, because the races were rain-free, although on Saturday morning the track was still rather wet.
However, for the MKR Renault Team the maxim was ‘the more rain the better’. And Markus Bösiger shone already in the first SuperPole on the rain-wet tarmac and later took an impressive unchallenged start-finish victory. And as for Markus Oestreich (GER), the team’s second driver: ‘rain man’ is his middle name, and therefore it was not much of a surprise that he took a podium spot – for the second time this season. But the Renaults coped equally well with the dry track. And on Sunday, a completely rain-free day, Bösiger claimed two podium places. And if he hadn’t encountered engine problems in the final stage of the last race, the Swiss would have been a sure candidate for another top podium position.
But what truly surprised everybody was the performance of the British MAN pilot Chris Levett.
He, too, is renowned for being able to cope better with wet tracks than most of his opponents. But also on the dry circuit Levett showed a performance that exceeded all expectations considering the results he achieved in the first two rounds this season. Another MAN pilot, Jochen Hahn (GER), was rather disappointed after the timed practice on Sunday. The team from Altensteig stood in the pit lane rubbing their eyes in disbelief when they realized that Hahn had for the first time failed to record a time that qualified him for the SuperPole. On Saturday the German, who at that time held 2nd overall in the championship, even gained a podium place. But in the following races Hahn got his fighting spirit back, and when in the last race Bösiger had to slow down, the Swabian steered his MAN to victory.
Another German, Uwe Nittel, who again participated as a race-by-race pilot for Buggyra, was all smiles right from the beginning. Already in his second race weekend he qualified for the SuperPole and in the last race he even made it onto the podium. His points tally is by now 21; hardly ever before a truck racing rookie stormed into contention that successfully. Nittel’s team mate, the Czech title contender David Vrsecky, had less reason to celebrate. In the first race on Sunday his Freightliner suffered electronic problems forcing Vrsecky to retire. This meant zero points just in the race were the double number of points can be scored. And, in addition, in the final race he had to start from the back of the grid with 20 trucks ahead of him. But nevertheless, he managed to work his way up to 5th.
No less impressive was the performance Antonio Albacete, the current championship leader, gave in the last race of the weekend, yet the Spaniard was anything but pleased. Right at the start the MAN pilot collided with the Renault of the French pole setter Anthony Janiec. Albacete spun off the track and found himself at the back of the field. But despite his fighting spirit he had to be content with 8th. Janiec crossed the finishing line in 4th, but was disqualified later.
But also a collision involving Oestreich’s Renault and Alex Lvov’s MAN caused a lot of excitement.
But, actually, incidents like the ones mentioned above are exactly what the audience wanted to see. Around 27,000 fans enjoyed the event, an increase of 5 percent on the previous year. If it had not rained on Saturday morning, the number of spectators would certainly have exceeded 30,000.