Tuesday, 07.12.2021 | Deutsch | English

Saturday in Jarama

30. September 2006Jarama - After a rather uneventful Friday followed an exciting and stressful Saturday. There was a dense cloud cover on Saturday morning, which is very unusual for Jarama. Both races of the free practice were dominated by Niko Pulic in his Mercedes Axor in a way that it could be expected that the Croatian would improve his performance even more, compared to Zolder. When the timed practice was about to begin, it started raining. It wasn’t a severe rain shower, but the drizzle that gradually turned into a constant rain, was enough to cover the surface more and more with a damp film. This meant that the pilots who didn’t give an absolutely faultless performance during the first laps, had no chance to better their positions later on.
As a consequence, all the fastest times were reached during the second lap where David Vrsecky in his Freightliner – although he was slower by 5 seconds than Pulic in the free practice – was a mere 73/1000 seconds faster than Markus Oestreich. So the Czech secured his pole position next to the Mercedes pilot. In the second row was the first MAN pilot, Markus Bösiger (3rd), alongside Vrsecky’s team mate, Gerd Körber. Next in line were two Mercedes pilots, Jochen Hahn and Niko Pulic, followed by Adam Lacko (MAN). And only then came the local hero, Antonio Albacete, on 8th position. Lutz Bernau’s crew had already gone through a busy morning, cause they had to replace the gearbox of the Cepsa MAN during the short time between the two free practices.
At the rolling start pole setter Vrsecky had to let pass Oestreich and Körber right before the first corner and then Hahn, too, overtook him already in the first lap. The big winner of the rolling start was Albacete who from 8th position managed to make up 3 positions. While the leading trio gained ground and Oestreich could finish comfortably in 1st with Körber and Hahn in 2nd and 3rd respectively, an enthusiastic crowd cheered their idol Albacete on who kept attacking Vrsecky. The Czech managed to fight off the attacks of the Spaniard, but then, only several hundred metres before the finishing line, the engine of his Freightliner failed, and he just barely managed to finish the race in 10th. So Albacete took 4th position, followed by Bösiger in 5th; next came Pulic in 6th and then Lacko, Frankie Vojtisek (Renault) and José Rodrigues (MAN). It turned out that the damage of the Freightliner’s engine was so severe that it couldn’t be repaired in time for the Cup race.
But fortune continued to smile on the Spaniard. After the race, in the Parc Fermé, there was the test, for the first time done by Fabien Calvet in Nogaro, to check whether the engine gets additional air apart from the air restrictor of the turbocharger, which is limited to 65 mm. The first three winners of the race had to go through this test, and while the engines of Oese’s Mercedes and Körber’s Freightliner stopped running immediately after the air restrictor was closed, Hahn’s truck kept on chugging slowly. It looked as if somewhere a screwing connection was not completely tight. Certainly such a low amount of additional air wouldn’t be of any advantage to Hahn in the race, but a disqualification was inevitable. This meant that Albacete and all the pilots behind him were again being promoted up one position.
At the Cup race not only the last part – the podium – set tongues wagging, but first of all the start which was the reason for the éclat at the podium. Oestreich was on pole with Körber alongside him. Behind them were Albacete and Bösiger. Oese and Körber were convinced that they both had had an almost perfect start – yet Albacete managed to pass both his opponents before they even were at the end of the pit lane. And from then on it was dead cert who would be the winner of the race.
Because of a mistake made when shifting gears at the hill, Oestreich even fell back behind Körber and Pulic on 4th position. While the Freightliner attacked Albacete again and again, both Mercedes trucks of the Euroline team lost some ground. But three laps before the finish the man from Fulda managed to pass his Croatian team mate and could secure his 3rd position. Under the deafening cheers of his enthusiastic fans Albacete managed to fight off Körber, who attacked the Spaniard right to the end, and crossed the finishing line in 1st position. On 5th was Bösiger who’s distance to the two Freightliners was not more than one second all the time, but he never had a real chance to pass any of them. The other pilots gaining points were Lacko, Rodrigues, Vojtisek, Vincent Crozier (Renault), and Javier Mariezcurrena (MAN).
The unlucky one was Jochen Hahn who, however, gave a splendid performance. Because of his disqualification at the Qualifying race he had to start from the back of the grid. Already after the second corner he had left behind more than 10 opponents. After the first lap there were 15 behind him and after the second lap already 19. For the next two laps Hahn stayed behind Vojtisek and the next one he attacked was Rodrigues and he was now already in 7th position. But in the eighth lap the turbo of Hahn’s Mercedes stopped working and he had to give up, which meant the end of his plans to challenge the leading position of Albacete.
But after the end of the race the discussions went on. Both Oestreich and Körber were of the opinion that Albacete could only have taken the lead by jumping the gun, and a lot of observers agreed to that. Unfortunately there were no video recordings which could have cleared things up, and it was said that Albacete’s onboard camera was out of order so that it did not record anything. The camera fixed on Oese’s truck showed only pictures from an angle that was not relevant. And between Körber and Albacete there was Oese’s Mercedes so that his video film could not help in the matter either. Recordings from a Spanish TV team that could have captured the incident perfectly from where the crew was positioned, were not available. In the end there was no positive proof for a false start of Albacete. Furthermore the FIA commissioners declared that they had not observed a false start; neither had the local stewards. Finally Albacete got another 20 points on his way to defend his title. What they thought about the matter, Oestreich and Körber demonstrated in silence when they left the podium, leaving the Spaniard standing there to squirt the champagne on his own.
The overall standing now is: Albacete 272 points which means an advantage to Körber of 16 points. After gaining zero points Hahn (229) is now on third position, followed by Oestreich (225), Vrsecky (188) and Bösiger (136).