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Most This And That

Most This And That

09. September 2014After a gap of six weeks, the 2014 season of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship entered its second half with the sixth round in Most a week and a half ago. In other championship sports we’ve often seen fortunes reverse significantly after a mid-season break; in the FIA ETRC the protagonists from the first half of the season have simply picked up where they left off. While more than 50,000 fans braved beastly weather to make it to the Autodrom, the downpours on Sunday had serious consequences for the racing - and we don’t only mean the Formula Renault competitions in the supporting programme that were cancelled.
Unlike their counterparts in most all other motorsport series, truck racers don’t have the luxury of special tyres to race on in the wet. In this dash of the titans the challenge is to adapt the trucks for the reduced grip by lowering the tyre pressure appropriately. And when the track is awash, as it was in Most, the trucks run near-minimum tyre pressures. In normal circumstances, many of them are set up for a ground clearance a whisker above the permissible minimum. But under pressure to come to terms with having to race in the deluge, some of the teams failed to consider that letting air out of the tyres would reduce the ground clearance of their trucks. As a result there were nasty surprises and disqualifications following the post-race scrutineering.
There are trucks, on the other hand, that are set up to ride so high that even with the reduced tyre pressures there was no danger of them dropping below the minimum. Other teams were careful to adjust the ride heights commensurately. And so it was just a few individual pilots that were caught out.
But many had already been worked up on Saturday itself.
It had taken a long while till the first race could actually register a definitive start. Three goes before a single race lap could be completed — something nobody here has ever experienced. But then there’s more to the first chicane in Most than even the most skilled truck racers are willing to admit; with a 90° right-hand bend followed immediately by a 90° left-hander, it can get real tight for the 2.5m-wide, 5.5 tonne rolling colossi. Surprisingly enough, the only damage the trucks emerged with was to panels and plastic, little else.
That the race should be flagged down only seven laps later took us by surprise. According to the official version the decision, ostensibly arising out of a fear that the trucks would run out of water with which their brake discs are continuously sprayed to keep them cool, had been taken in consultation with the teamowners.
Sure, a full 12 laps were run as originally envisaged — if you count the three formation laps and two “first” laps. But these five laps were obviously not run at full pace, and the brakes therefore would not have had as much need for forced cooling. Many observers, among them several teamowners, were a bit surprised. Perhaps a simple gap in communication.
Whatever, there was still plenty to cheer about.
With local heroes Adam Lacko and David Vršecký first and third in Saturday’s second race, the crowds were in rapture, although nobody could have imagined then that the two would go one better the next morning. But following the Vršecký–Lacko one-two in Sunday’s first race, the fans could no longer restrain their exuberance. The two Buggyra pilots know Autodrom Most like the backs of their hands, with every undulation etched into their keen memories. Be that as it may, perhaps there’s only a little chance they’re going to be able to pull off a coup again in the last three races in Zolder, Jarama, and Le Mans and break into the three-way battle of the MAN triumvirate Antonio Albacete (ESP), Jochen Hahn (GER), and Norbert Kiss (HUN) — however, you can’t entirely rule out that prospect either.

Impressions:

Most This And That
Most This And That