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Saturday in Navarra Part 1

Saturday in Navarra Part 1

01. June 2013Navarra - Summer begins today, the meteorologists tell us, but there`s still no sign of it at Los Arcos. The temperature last night was in the single digits, and only climbed to 15°C in the afternoon, as the sun occasionally peeped through. But the fans continue to throng the Circuito de Navarra unabated for this second round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship. On several occasions eager fans had to be turned away from the overcrowded viewing gallery atop the pits, till it was finally decided to regulate entry by means of a token-priority system. Down on the track, the truck racers were a picture of concentration as they made their first laps around a track all but one of them have never set foot – or tyre – on before. Some of them practised on simulators yesterday, but then a simulator is no substitute for the real thing.
Spaniard Antonio Albacete (MAN) was the measure of a truck racer in the first free practice, finishing over a second ahead of German Truck Sport Bernau colleague Markus Oestreich, who was next after him on the timesheet. Albacete lapped more than half a second faster in the second free practice, but his rivals had improved their own times even more dramatically and were now nipping at his heels. Of course, you`re never sure what the top drivers are holding back till the timed practice and the SuperPole that follows.
And so it was that in the first timed practice Norbert Kiss (MAN), the young Hungarian who`s secretly tipped to win top honours here this weekend, shot straight to the top, ahead of Oestreich, Albacete, and reigning champion Jochen Hahn (GER). The MAN quad was followed by Renault pilot Markus Bösiger (SUI) und the two Czechs David Vršecký (Buggyra Freightliner) und Adam Lacko (Renault), and then the two MANs of Germans René Reinert und Stephanie Halm, with Frenchman Anthony Janiec (Renault) rounding out the top 10 for the SuperPole.
Nobody`s holding his or her cards back here, because it`s now a fight for the top 10 places on the starting grid, no less. But Kiss was not to be outdone. The only driver in the field to have lapped the Circuito de Navarra at race speed during his time in the Spanish Seat Cup some times earlier, he went on to set the first truck race record for this circuit with a lap of 2:08.406, followed by Oestreich, Albacete, and Hahn in the same order as in the timed practice. The rest of the places were taken by Vršecký, Lacko, Bösiger, und Reinert. The fight for 9th place was a duel between Halm und Janiec which the young German decided in her own favour on her last lap.
Steffi Halm was indeed the surprise element of the day — the reigning French champion (she drives for the MAN Lion Team from Lyon) broke into the Top 10, and hence the SuperPole, for the first time. No less surprisingly, Misano double-victor Mika Mäkinen (FIN) in his Mad-Croc MAN missed the Top 10 by a whisker -- less than a tenth. The lap times in this section of the field were so close that you can be sure the fight for 8th place in the race, which means pole for the second race of the day, is going to be extremely fierce.

Supported by Meritor Translation: Eliot Lobo

Impressions:

Saturday in Navarra Part 1
Saturday in Navarra Part 1
Saturday in Navarra Part 1