Friday at the Hungaroring
16. October 2020The second competition weekend in the 2020 FIA European Truck Racing Championship is underway at the Hungaroring a few kilometres east of Budapest. The season was originally scheduled to have ended with the eighth round over the first weekend of October, but nothing is as it should be this year.
In the original calendar, the Hungarian Truck Fest was slated to be the season-opener over the last weekend of April. At that time the number of positive COVID-19 results per 100,000 people tested was 6 for Hungary, some time later only 0.3.
In Germany, this is the primary metric for all of the government’s coronavirus measures – a value above 35 automatically means a raft of restrictions on normal living; any conglomeration with a value above 50 is designated a high risk zone.
This has major consequences – depending on the federal state, every visitor or person returning from such a zone is required to quarantine for a fortnight and submit to a COVID test. Indeed, the government had announced a uniform – and even more stringent – regulation nationwide with effect from 15 October, but this has been delayed to 1 November.
In Hungary, the “incidence rate” has gone up from 0.3 to 74 (and 90 in Budapest), and the region around the Hungaroring notified as a danger zone in Germany.
This was cause for considerable nervousness among the German truck racers. Apart from a very small number who are employees, most team mechanics in truck racing have regular jobs elsewhere, and their employers have forbidden them from travelling to any COVID risk zone and returning directly to their jobs without quarantine.
At least half the field in Most consisted of German drivers, and had all of them withdrawn, there’d have been far fewer than the minimum number of 12 (below which the organiser has the right to cancel the event); only 11 took part in free practice in Hungary today. The most prominent name missing is MAN pilot Sascha Lenz, the leader in the standings. His team is particularly severely affected by the situation described above – some of his permanent mechanics couldn’t obtain permission to travel, and the team did not want to enter a stressful defence of its leadership in depleted condition.
As things stand there are four German entries, some of them here with only a single mechanic. Defending champion Jochen Hahn and Steffi Halm have come with their Ivecos, Steffen Faas with his tankpool24 Scania, and Clemens Hecker with his MAN.
The weather on Friday left much to be desired, and the track was so wet and slippery that the lap times in both training sessions were 20 seconds and more above those from last season. Czech Adam Lacko (Buggyra Freightliner) and Hungarian MAN ace Norbert Kiss traded top times in FP1, Lacko closing the session eight hundredths ahead. Hahn was third, a half-second slower.
The timesheet looked similar in FP2, although MAN pilot Antony Janiec (FRA) now made a strong appearance at the top, displacing Lacko, quickest thitherto, by a tenth on his final lap.
But those times are of no real significance – what matters is how fast they go in the Super Pole tomorrow morning.