Saturday in Le Mans Part 1 - Sascha Lenz crushes it in the Super Pole
29. September 2018Le Mans - After a clear night, the morning temperatures were still in mid-single-digits when the racers climbed into their trucks for the warm-up on this first day of competition at the 7th round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship at Circuit Bugatti in Le Mans. As you might expect, the track was covered with a layer of dew and the lap times were somewhat longer than those set in FP1 yesterday in ideal conditions. Championship leader Jochen Hahn (GER), quickest in practice yesterday in his Iveco, could manage only third on the timesheet, more than a second slower than his previous time.
The surprise session-topper was Hahn’s compatriot Sascha Lenz (MAN), whose 2:06.483 was the only lap under 2:07, a good eight tenths faster than his fastest in FP1. Second was Brit Ryan Smith (MAN), who had been among the frontrunners yesterday. Smith, if you remember, had originally registered for the ETRC as a full-season pilot with the OXXO team but dropped out, and is now back as a privateer with a new competition number, and so will not earn any points for his exertions. The rule states that a driver must have participated in the first five events to continue to be eligible for points.
Our next surprise this morning came two hours later in Q1. Iveco pilot André Kursim (GER) shot to the top on his first lap with 2:05.955, and remained the only man under 2:06 till the end of the 10 minutes, though Hungarian Norbert Kiss (Mercedes) did come close, a tenth off. Only 1.6 seconds covered the 10 qualifiers for the Super Pole.
Five minutes later Kursim and Kiss were back out, with Smith, Lenz, Spaniard Antonio Albacete (MAN), Hahn, MAN pilots José Rodrigues (POR) and René Reinert (GER), Czech Adam Lacko (Buggyra Freightliner), and Steffi Halm (GER) in the third Iveco.
Following on from his turn of speed in the warm-up, Lenz launched straightway into what turned out to be the fastest lap of the weekend so far – 2:05.205. All the others also improved their times, Hahn coming in second, two tenths slower, and Kursim just three hundredths off Hahn. Kiss, Albacete, Smith, Lacko, and Halm came after, the top eight all squeezing into a narrow band of eight tenths.
José Rodrigues and Reinert will start from P9 and P10.