Hungaroring preliminary report
09. June 2021The curtain goes up on the FIA European Truck Racing Championship at the Hungaroring, 20 km northeast of Budapest, this Saturday. The season was to have opened in Misano in May, but that round has been rescheduled and will instead bring the curtains down on ETRC 2021 in October.
Of the full-season entrants, French MAN pilot Anthony Janiec won’t be racing in Hungary. That leaves a field of 15, with home hero Norbert Kiss and his red MAN the designated favourite. Twice-champ Norbi has every inch of the circuit etched into his memory and could nearly drive a lap here blindfolded. On the two outings last year he demonstrated why he will be one of the favourites.
Two of his closest rivals are six-times champion Jochen Hahn and Czech Buggyra Racing pilot Adam Lacko. As he does before every season, the German Iveco factory pilot has diligently prepared for this one as well – and the Buggyras have probably more test kilometres on their odometers this season than any other race truck in the field.
But Kiss faces a tough challenge from within the MAN ranks as well, in the persons of Sascha Lenz (GER) and evergreen Madrilène veteran Antonio Albacete. Lenz topped the table at the first round in Most last year, and both he and Albacete had very encouraging test outings in Nogaro last month.
That makes a handful of podium candidates, but on the face of it the field is more evenly matched this year than it’s ever been, and one’s performance in the 20 minutes of qualifying itself will most likely determine the position one finishes the following race in.
The three remaining German Iveco pilots – Steffi Halm, André Kursim, and René Reinert – are no less capable contenders for places on the podium.
Corona-curtailed 2020 was the worst year possible for their compatriot Steffen Faas to debut his new tankpool24 Scania, notwithstanding his impressive turn of speed at the two only events in Most and at the Hungaroring. Did we mention that the sole griffin in the field is also the best-looking race truck by some?
Buggyra Racing will once again send three Freightliners into the fray, with French youngster Téo Calvet and 16-year-old Aliyyah Koloc, daughter of Buggyra boss Martin Koloc, following in Lacko’s draft. While the young lady will be more concentrated on gaining further experience, Calvet has bigger ambitions – he made that clear at the first round of the French championship last weekend, winning both Super Poles and all four races in Charade.
But he’s going to have four bigger cats to reckon with – three Brits and a German flying the lion flag. MAN, once again, will have the largest representation on the grid in Hungary with seven trucks.
The strongest of the four is, without doubt, Englishman Jamie Anderson, who finished 10th overall in 2019. He’ll be driving a brand new MAN in striking black-and-blue livery built for him by Sascha Lenz, with whom he will team up as Löwenpower.
Clemens Hecker, an avowed Scania fan by the way, is graduating from just-for-fun racing in the national series to a full-timer in the top flight. The entrepreneur from Anröchte in North Rhine-Westphalia is determined to mix it up with the biggest in the (truck racing) business.
Shane Brereton has made an appearance in the ETRC off and on, and picked up a goodly haul of points too, finishing 10th in the table in 2018. Tom O’Rourke is an unknown quantity in the ETRC, having begun his racing career only a couple of seasons ago in the British championship.
The weather forecasters are all over the map as far as this weekend goes – some are prophesying thunderstorms, others dry skies. The one thing they all agree about is the temperature, 25–27°C.