Championnat de France Camions – Sunday in Albi, Anthony Janiec is 2018 champion
14. October 2018Albi - We were treated to a brilliant sunrise at Circuit d’Albi on this final day of the Championnat de France Camions, but it was also very windy, with severe squalls that sent some of the teams and exhibitors scurrying to take down parts of their marquees that were in danger of being blown away – and this before the day had even begun.
When the trucks rolled out for the warm-up it was six minutes before sunrise. MAN pilot Sascha Lenz (GER) was quickest with 1:43.609, followed closely by Lion pilot Anthony Janiec (MAN).
Two hours later it was time for qualifying. Lenz beat Janiec to the top again, this time by a whisker - his 1:43.389 proving one thousandth better than the French defending champion’s best, and two tenths quicker than Thomas Robineau, also in an MAN.
They made a beeline for pit lane, to await the start of the Super Pole. A few others who thought their times adequate for the shootout did likewise – for all, conserving their tyres was paramount.
Lenz missed out on a time in the 1:42s by a bare three hundredths. Robineau followed him across the line with a 1:42.950, eight hundredths quicker. Janiec could come no closer than two tenths, which meant he’d start on the second row of the grid behind the polesitter, now 4.5 points behind the Lion pilot in the standings. Lenz was on P2, but with no points to fight for. Indeed, he had made it clear from the beginning that he’d be very careful not to tip the scales in favour of either of the leaders.
The German came off relatively slower at the lights, and when Janiec came up to overtake, he even lifted off a bit. After all, he reiterated afterwards, it was for the two protagonists to make of the race what they could, and would. But it didn’t quite come to that at all. The first 10 lapped in the order in which they’d started, the first three in intervals of a second or two, the rest somewhat further behind. Everyone waited expectantly for Janiec to attack Robineau, but before that could happen a Volvo from the back of the field stalled in an awkward position on the track. At first yellow flags were waved around the entire circuit, so that the safety car could be sent out – a peculiarity of the French championship. Next we heard the race had been ended, and considering that more than two thirds of it had been run, full points were awarded.
The times on the official timesheet were somewhat deceptive, because while Robineau had continued at race pace under the yellow flags, the rest had cut their speed and were up to 20 seconds a lap slower.
Behind Robineau, Janiec, and Lenz came Lionel Montagne (Renault), Téo Calvet (MAN), and Grzegorz Ostaszewski (Renault).
It was the Pole on pole for the final race, with Calvet alongside, and Montagne and Lenz behind them on Row 2, and the title rivals side by side a row further behind. The situation in the championship was as delicate as you could imagine, Robineau having regained the half-point advantage he had coming into this round, but Janiec occupying the better starting position. Should he keep himself one place ahead of Robineau throughout the race, he’d have defended his title by half a point. But only a few hundred metres into the race, all calculation was moot.
The start itself was uneventful. The first bottleneck on Circuit d’Albi is the François Flad ess right after the start. Polesitter made it there first, ahead of Calvet, Lenz, and Montagne. Janiec and Robineau also made it peaceably thus far. Right behind them, père et fils Sousa collided in their Renaults and put wheels off the track, dragging up a swirl of mud. When the dust settled and visibility was restored, Robineau’s MAN was seen turned turtle at the exit of the chicane. The race was immediately stopped, and while the truck was quickly recovered, unlike Jennifer Janiec’s yesterday, it took three quarters of an hour before the stewards finally decided that the race would proceed.
The first 14 pilots all followed each other around with no real evident intention of overtaking after the crash. After only six of the 11 laps, the race was stopped once again after a tyre barrier was found lying across a portion of the track.
Half an hour later the final result was announced and Janiec declared champion for 2018.