Jarama This And That
10. October 2019The finale of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship at Circuito del Jarama was unlike those at this popular circuit north of Madrid last year and the year before. The driver and team titles may already have been decided a week earlier, as they were last year, but news of the sudden passing of Hahn Racing principal Conni Hahn cast a blanket of gloom over the entire truck racing family. The shock was more deeply felt because everyone in the paddock had only a few days earlier personally congratulated him on his son Jochen’s having won his sixth title and the second for „Die Bullen von Iveco Magirus“.
For the Hahn family there was no question that Jochen would not compete in Jarama – seeing as truck racing is their lifeblood, and has been for many years now. Jochen himself demonstrated that evocatively in Jarama, dominating proceedings just as he has at every one of the previous rounds this season. More than any other, Hahn Racing exemplifies the symbiosis of man and machine – the machine built to a T by the man himself.
In qualifying and Super Poles through the season the differences in lap times were in the tenths, hundredths, or even thousandths, but on almost all occasions it was Hahn on top. That all the others recognise his superiority, and his fairness and ever-readiness to help no less, was evident at the FIA gala Sunday evening, where the bantam from Altensteig was elected Driver of the Year – by his ETRC co-competitors, the only ones eligible to vote – for the second year in a row.
There were no untoward surprises this year, but that doesn’t mean the racing was any less competitive than it’s been – quite the opposite. The fights for P2 and P5 in the championship went down to the wire, the former between Madrilène matador Antonio Albacete (MAN) and Czech Adam Lacko (Freightliner), the latter between German MAN driver Sascha Lenz and Hungarian ex-champ Norbert Kiss in the tankpool24 Mercedes. Their contest was close, ending only on Sunday evening with Lenz two points ahead.
The battle for second banana might have been every bit as close were it not for that 10 second penalty that Lacko was handed on Saturday. There were parallels to the massive pile-up at the same spot last year, though the causes and effects were much less drastic. The decision cost the Czech five points and handed Albacete one – effectively presenting him with six bonus points. On Sunday the Spaniard took runner’s-up by seven points. Minus the penalty, it would been touch and go till the very end.
It was all most exciting. Oh, and did we mention the wonderful vacation atmosphere? The colourful and noisy spectators that packed the many stands, most of them open to the sky, couldn’t have wished for better weather – clear skies, temperatures between 25° and 30°C. It’s they that bring that inimitable Iberian flair to truck racing in Jarama. It’s they that cheer crazily for every last backmarker. In this case it was Frenchman Dominique Orsini, whose ancient Mercedes was easily 7 or 8 km/h slower per lap than the leaders, who won the wildest applause.
The FIA prizegiving at a local club later that evening was no less roisterous for the venue at which it was held. (for photographs, click on the FIA Season Awards Ceremony link). The festivities spilled over into the paddock, where the entire circus partied loudly and long into the night.