Saturday in Misano Part 1 – Jochen Hahn picks up first pole of the season
25. May 2019Misano - The weather’s wonderful on this first day of the opening round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship at the Misano World Circuit on Italy’s Adriatic coast. It was clear and sunny from early in the morning, though a few clouds began to gather later on. Some of the truck racers weren’t as sunnily disposed, however, having had to contend with some unpleasant surprise or other.
As an interesting consequence, all trucks were much slower than in first free practice here last year – between two and four seconds slower. But the teams then had had the prior opportunity, during the press rides and supplementary free practice on Friday, to iron out the kinks in their setups.
What wasn’t surprising was defending champ Jochen Hahn’s timesheet-topping lap in his rebuilt 2018 Iveco. Spaniard Antonio Albacete (MAN) was just six hundredths slower and Hahn’s compatriot and „Die Bullen von Iveco Magirus“ teammate Steffi Halm 15 hundredths off, with a small gap to the next driver.
Second free practice saw quicker laps overall, but still off last year’s times. Hahn and Albacete topped again, the German this time going seven-tenths faster than his old rival. Below them it was closer this time, with only a fraction over a second between the Spaniard and P6. The anticipation was building.
Qualifying opened with Iveco pilot André Kursim in top spot after the first flying lap, and Hahn in danger of dropping out of the Top 10. But then the quintuple champ resurged irresistibly with a 2:03.776 stunner that put everyone else clean in the shade.
German Sascha Lenz, who took to the track after everyone else – his MAN had needed a few repairs after practice – thrust Kursim from P2 on his only lap. Frenchman Anthony Janiec (MAN) was fourth-quickest, with Steffi Halm, Iveco pilot René Reinert (GER), Albacete, tankpool24 Mercedes pilot Norbert Kiss (HUN), Czech Adam Lacko (Buggyra Freightliner), and Spanish MAN pilot Luis Recuenco making up the Top 10 for the Super Pole.
Hahn went to the top on his first hot lap, but 2:04.127 is certainly not the best we’ve seen from the bantam from Altensteig. Lacko was a tenth slower, the rest following in intervals of a tenth apiece. After the cooling-off lap you’d have expected something to change in the initial order, but the only racer who really capitalised on his second flying lap was Hahn himself, setting a new top time of 2:03.743.
The grid for the first race of the season will thus have Hahn and Lacko on the front row, with Albacete, Kiss, Halm, Janiec, Lenz, Kursim, Reinert, and Recuenco on P3 through P10.