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Navarra Preliminary Report

Navarra Preliminary Report

29. May 2013The Circuito de Navarra in the north of Spain, some 60 km southwest of Pamplona, will host its first FIA European Truck Racing Championship event this weekend. For the organiser, though, the ETRC isn`t new territory — Examotor from Barcelona has long been responsible not only for all the races in the Spanish championship, but also for the Spanish rounds of the European championship at Albacete and Jarama.
The Albacete event has traditionally been held over the first weekend in June; last year it was shifted at short notice to Jarama, at the very gates of Madrid. The region around Albacete was particularly hard-hit by the economic difficulties that Spain has been going through, and the inevitably high costs of hosting a large event like this could no longer be covered by income from ticket sales and sponsors.
Navarra is far better off economically. The ultramodern 3.933km racetrack is only three years old. it is approved for Formula 1 and hosted some rounds of the GT World Championship. And so the 27 truck racers arrive here not quite knowing what to expect. On Wednesday evening a few teams took part in a PR event at Pamplona`s city centre to publicise the race.
Of all the drivers registered for the European championship, Ellen Lohr (GER) will not be racing at Navarra — the damage to her tankpool24 Mercedes from the nasty crashes it was involved in at the season-opener in Misano was far worse than initially estimated. Moreover the race truck, which only got its first shakedown at the race at Misano, suffered numerous teething troubles that the MB-Motorsport team wants to overcome before the third race of the FIA ETRC in mid-June.
By contrast her compatriot Stephanie Halm, the only other lady in the European championship, comes to Navarra with the wind in her sails. She not only emerged in significantly better shape after Misano but also went ahead to win three out of four races in a round of the French national championship last weekend. The young German is the incumbent French champion and is best placed to defend her title in that series, although she is realistic enough to know how strong the headwind is that she`s up against in the European championship.
She stands a good chance of making it into the Top 10, nevertheless, considering that Gerd Körber (GER), who is tenth in the ranking after Misano, won`t start at Navarra. This has nothing to do with the fact that the veteran from Rheinau celebrated his 50th birthday last weekend and then promptly (and at long last!) got married. The race-by-race pilot and his Iveco team had only planned for five races this season, and Navarra wasn`t one of them.
The Top 10 ranking has a special significance, because it decides which drivers are obliged to enter a lottery that will determine the tyres they race on throughout the weekend. On the evening before each race day, lots are drawn under the supervision of FIA technical delegate Ross Garrett for numbered sets of tyres that are only released to the teams on the morning of the race. This is done to put paid to suspicions (in past seasons) of tyres being doctored. If everything goes well, Steffi Halm will have taken over 10th place in the ranking in Navarra — provided no other race-by-race contender throws a spanner in the works.
The races in Navarra also count towards the Spanish national championship, and recent years have seen stirring performances from the MAN driver Javier Mariezcurrena. It`s worth remembering his victory two years ago at Nogaro, where an entire phalanx of stronger FIA pilots couldn`t take first place from the Spaniard. More crucially, Mariezcurrena is going to be racing very close to home and will definitely enjoy an added advantage on that count.
The six other Spanish race-by-race drivers won`t have any part in the points distributed under the European championship — all they`ll be interested in is winning as many as possible towards their own national title.

Supported by Meritor Translation: Eliot Lobo

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Navarra Preliminary Report
Navarra Preliminary Report
Navarra Preliminary Report