Zolder This And That
20. September 2017In the run-up to the 7th round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship, nobody could have reckoned – not in the truck racing community and not in the tankpool24 Racing team – that the two Mercedes pilots Norbert Kiss (HUN) and André Kursim (GER) would win three of the four races, one of those a one-two to boot. And that at Circuit Zolder, a track on which they haven’t exactly shone so far.
The fact that the team had an important PR commitment in Northern Germany to honour in the couple of days immediately before meant that André Kursim and his Mercedes couldn’t make it in time for free practice on Friday. But when the young pilot then went out and won his first two career victories, some wags suggested that Kursim should in future abstain from free practice altogether!
For some of the teams and pilots, this idyllic circuit set amid lush greenery has also some not so positive associations – more a matter of perception than grounded in fact. The round at Zolder has traditionally been that point in the season when the truck racers exit the final corner, so to speak – stumble here and it’s extremely difficult to regain your footing. And the feeling of having blown it tends to morph into a mental stronghold by the start of the next season.
When Adam Lacko was brought to an abrupt halt in Race 1 by damage to his Freightliner’s gearbox, the prophets of gloom were quick to declare that the Buggyra team had been hit by the “Curse of Zolder”. But they’d have to be willingly ignorant of the fact that that the Czech’s lead is so large that Buggyra really had – and has – absolutely nothing to worry about. Not to mention that Lacko was back in devastating form in the three remaining races, ceding only 7 points in all to his nearest follower in the championship, Iveco pilot Jochen Hahn (GER).
The weather was the other topic of discussion. There was nothing to gripe about on the actual race days, but on the setting-up days, Thursday and Friday, and on Monday, when the team tents came down, it rained rivers. The teams had to cart their soaking paraphernalia away … to Le Mans, where the weather has often been most unkind to the truck racers in seasons past. But this time the forecast for the coming days spells sunshine only – not a drop of rain.