Another full house at the Truck Grand Prix
17. July 2019Nürburgring - The climactic event of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship is upon us. The Truck Grand Prix is much more than a weekend do, unlike like the other rounds, and the Nürburgring has been abuzz with activities related to truck racing from the first day of the week. On Sunday the tents started going up; on Monday the early birds staked their claims to the prime camping spots; by Tuesday evening the paddock was already two thirds full.
The TGP is a mecca for the truck racers and the fans, and one of the biggest, if not the most attractive, industry events of the whole year. The packed programme is impossible to fit into three days, as on a few other circuits, forget two. The schedule kicks off on Thursday with the scrutineering, the VIP and press rides, and the hour of supplementary free practice. Then there’s a Friday filled with qualifying, the first race of the ADAC Mittelrhein Cup, and the opening concerts in the Müllenbachschleife.
Amid the plethora of goings-on, the motorsport remains front and centre. For the first time this year we’ll have all the full-season pilots on one grid; they are going to be joined by nine additional trucks, which means nearly the full capacity of the sprint circuit will be in use – the organisers have barely been able to save themselves from the avalanche of entries, and the paddock is bursting at every seam. Fifteen of the Mittelrhein Cup participants are in the main paddock taking up every corner and every smallest gap; the rest have had to put up in the historical paddock. The races of the Mittelrhein Cup have for many years counted towards the British championship and most of the starters there will, not surprisingly, be Brits.
Seasoned fans of truck racing will be glad to see “Mr Truckracing” Gerd Körber back in action. The thrice-champ may have hung his gloves up at the end of 2017, but truck racing runs in his blood and the call of the TGP was simply too strong to resist. The inveterate trucker from Baden in the southwest of Germany returns in the #27 Schwabentruck Iveco.
The TGP has always attracted scores of Dutch fans, and they are going to have a man of their own in the thick of things. Veteran Erwin Kleinnagelvoort, the second generation of an illustrious family of truck racing privateers, drew attention in his day with a string of victories in the Go & Stop competition. If you were there then, you’d never forget legendary track commentator Kalli Hufstadt announcing the much younger Erwin and his somewhat dated “Scannnnia” (with at least four ‘n’s) T-cab as the one outfit in which the driver was younger than the truck!
Another youngster will be the cynosure this year – Lukas Hahn, third generation of the Hahn family to get into the sport. The son of five-times champ Jochen and grandson of Konny Hahn makes a relatively modest début in the Mittelrhein Cup, but don’t you think he’ll be piloting a downspecced version of his dad’s championship-winning machine. All the Iveco race trucks in the ETRC currently are Hahn-built, and all at par both technically and in performance.
The weather forecasts are encouragingly good for the characteristically inconstant Eifel. Looks like we’re in for another extraordinary feast of truck racing.