Saturday in Le Mans Part 2 - Hahn eases closer to title with Race 1 win
29. September 2018Le Mans - Before the first race of the weekend could begin, we had what’s easily the longest-drawn-out formation in the history of truck racing. There have been grid walks with driver parades of considerable duration, but none as long as this one: the ACO, the organiser of the 24h, had planned for one full hour!
Around 50 race trucks from the ETRC and the French championship, plus two pace trucks, were parked along the main straight in herringbone formation with their rears towards the pit wall, the pilot and four team members taking up position in front of each truck. A camera van crept along the several hundred metres of the straight, while a live orchestra played the French national anthem. This year the ACO wants to emulate the legendary 24 hour race at all its other major events.
After the ceremonies the trucks from the Championnat de France drove back into the pits, while their FIA-series counterparts lined up on the grid with Lenz on Pole and Hahn alongside to his right. It was clear that Hahn would not be going all-out, considering that Lacko, his closest rival, would start only from P7 – in these conditions it would be almost impossible for the Czech “rain man” to climb his way up.
Lenz pulled away into the lead at the lights, but then drifted wide a few corners later. Four-times champ Hahn gratefully grabbed the unexpected invitation and slipped ahead in a twinkling. While the two soon left the rest of the pack some distance behind, everyone else ganged up on Kursim in P3. The young Iveco pilot had to keep his eyes on the rear-view mirrors rather than on the road ahead. Kiss was climbing all over his faux fifth wheel, and the tankpool24 pilot in turn was beset by Albacete.
Towards mid-race the German’s resistance was broken; in just two laps he was overtaken by Kiss, Albacete, Reinert, Smith, Halm, and Lacko, and was now down in P9.
There was no more challenging Hahn for victory or Lenz for P2, so the attention shifted to the fight for P3, Kiss holding on by half a second from Albacete.
Reinert followed at some remove, tailed by Lacko and Halm. The Czech had just about snatched P6 from the Iveco pilotess on the final lap and salvaged it by four tenths at the flag.
A few laps to the finish, Smith fell back and then dropped out altogether, handing P8 to Kursim, for whom the only bright spot was the promise of pole for Race 2.
José Rodrigues and Brit Shane Brereton (MAN) took the two remaining places in the points. Brereton also topped the Grammer Truck Cup ranking, followed by his compatriots and fellow MAN drivers Jamie Anderson and Terry Gibbon.
„Die Bullen von Iveco Magirus“ (Hahn / Steffi Halm) took the team honours, ahead of Reinert Adventure (Lenz / Reinert) and tankpool24 Racing (Kiss / Faas).