Misano 2019 -A preview
23. May 2019Misano - It’s been 228 days without a race in the FIA European Truck Racing Championship. The British truck racers have two competition weekends behind them already, and the Championnat de France Camions kicked off last weekend in Le Castellet; when the European season finally opens at the Misano World Circuit on Italy’s Adriatic coast this weekend, not only will a long drought come to an end for the sport’s inveterate fans, but the teams will also get a first taste of the fruit of their labours over the winter.
A whole host of truck racers, including most of the Top 10, made the trek to Autodrom Most for a battery of tests over the Easter weekend. But who knows whose pace was revelatory of their true preparedness and which of them deliberately stayed under the limit, if only to mislead the eagle-eyed competition?
There can be no more sleight come Saturday, when everyone’s true colours will have to be on display, no later than in qualifying and the Super Pole. The prime contenders for the title are, once again, five-times champion Jochen Hahn (Iveco) and last year’s runner-up Adam Lacko (Buggyra). Our information is that the Czech team has built an all-new truck and engine. While the top teams are dependent on the truckmakers to develop – and extract the last ounce of performance from – their race engines, Buggyra alone is completely self-sufficient in this respect. Its Gyrtech subsidiary in Roudnice nad Labem develops high-performance engines for circuit racing and rally raid, and was responsible for the 1,500 hp Caterpillar motors that propelled David Vršecký to world speed records in 2004 and 2008.
The battle for the championship will by no means be restricted to Hahn and Lacko – others will want to have a say as well. The challenge for MAN goes beyond supplying and supporting the largest contingent by a single marque: we expect the German manufacturer will be aiming for greater things once again. The diesel mavens from Munich and the Spanish Piedrafita crew will want their drivers adequately equipped so that they have every bit the measure of the title favourites.
The FIA European Truck Racing Championship is not only a competition between drivers; there’s also the prestigious European Champion Team title for pairings representing a single marque. This year Sascha Lenz and Antonio Albacete have registered as Löwen Power, i.e. under the evocative emblem of MAN itself.
„Die Bullen von Iveco Magirus“ with Hahn and compatriot Steffi Halm will be defending their title – come what may. Buggyra, with Lacko and Oly Janes, and the Mercedes team tankpool24 Racing with Hungarian Norbert Kiss and young German Fabio Citignola, are seen as having only an outside chance. That’s because you need more than one high-scoring pilot in order to be a frontrunner for the team title. Englishman Oly Janes has his sights set on the Grammer Truck Cup, and rookie Citignola has said that he just wants to learn in his first season.
His tankpool24 teammate Kiss’s ambitions, obviously, are diametrically opposite. Having come up short last season, you can be sure the redoubtable twice-champ will redouble his assault this time round.
The Iveco family has, meanwhile, grown with the addition of a new member. Hahn, Halm, and André Kursim (GER) are joined by René Reinert. He becomes the fourth German in an Italian race truck – made in Ulm and Altensteig. The dashing Lusatian fleetowner has switched over after seven years with MAN.
The Rodrigues family from Portugal has, by contrast, stayed true to MAN and will, for yet another season, be represented by all three generations. José will race the entire season in his own truck; his father Eduardo and son José Eduardo will take it in turns in the senior Rodrigues’ truck. Englishman Terry Gibbon and Spaniard Luis Recuenco complete the MAN cohort.
Veteran Dominique Orsini (Mercedes) marks the return of a Frenchman to the ETRC. His compatriots Antony Janiec and Thomas Robineau (both MAN) will make a guest appearance in Misano.