Its Ryan Smith at Misano
Ryan Smith bagged the pole position at FIA European Truck Racing Championship’s first race of 2018 season at Misano in Italy.
Ryan Smith bagged the pole position at FIA European Truck Racing Championship's first race of 2018 season at Misano in Italy.
More than 42,000 visitors thronged the Misano circuit in Italy on May 26, 2018 for the first truck race of the season under the aegis of European Truck Racing Championship title. The first truck race of the season got to a good start as 25 truck racing teams found their way to the circuit. As the truck racing fans swelled the terraces on the Misano circuit, the racing trucks in attractive livery began their quest for the pole position. The first race of the weekend saw Jochen Hahn emerge as the leader. With the sun shining bright upon all those who gathered at Misano, the convoy of racing trucks, as they set off for the first corner, saw Hahn set the pace. Hahn in fact set the pace earlier on in the practice session in his Iveco. Lenz topped the second free practice session as the temperatures rose. He has his MAN colleagues Antonio Albacete (ESP) and René Reinert (GER) trailing him. Also trailing were Hahn and
Smith, albeit in a tight cluster. By noon, it was quite warm by European standards, and the first qualifier saw Kiss drive the fastest lap followed by Hahn and Smith just four hundredths behind.
Spaniard Antonio Albacete driving a MAN truck, Adam Lacko in Buggyra Freightliner, André Kursim in Iveco, Lenz, Anthony Janiec driving a MAN truck, Reinert and Gerd Körber driving an Iveco made up the rest of the top 10. They were all placed with a difference of one second! The unusual performance parity saw Steffi Halm, driving an Iveco, cling to the eleventh position, As the trucks set off after a fiveminute interval, Hahn went around the circuit as if he were on steroids. He set the fastest lap of 2:02.982. Albacete was next best, and Kiss was third best. Reinert, Smith, Lacko, Körber, Janiec, Kursim, and Lenz took the remaining positions. Continuing to ride on the wave of success, Hahn continued to exert himself. Many hurdles were to be overcome yet though. Beating Albacete in a fierce contest for lead that saw either driver overtake either over a distance, it was Hahn who seemed to get better and better. Behind Hahn and Albacete, Steffi came to a crashing halt as her truck collided with that of Janiec. She tried to recover, but a flat rear tyre did her in. Very soon after Steffi’s incident, the drive axle of Frankie Vojtíšek’s MAN truck broke. Leaking oil and diesel burst into flames even as he came to a halt. On the oil that spilt, Oly Janes driving a team Buggyra Freightliner lost control. He slid into the armco, prompting the coming out of the red flag.
Having suffered a flat tyre along with Steffi, Janiec and Steffi were both allowed to pit and change the tyres. The rest of the field regrouped on the pit straight and waited for a start. To clean the track it took a good three quarters of an hour. Except for Halm and Janiec starting from the pit lane exit, the race went on eventless until Reinert’s MAN suddenly picked up a puncture in one of the front tyres. This happening while negotiating a set of turns
led to Reinert’s truck hitting Kursim’s Iveco. The two slid off into the track, and into the gravel. The Iveco set itself free, but not the MAN. Double yellow flags came out. There would be no twists on this part of the circuit. Hahn went out in front with Albacete, Lacko and Kiss in pursuit. Lacko and Kiss fought for third position. Smith, Körber, Lenz, Thomas Robineau and Steffi followed. Lenz soon overtook Körber and Halm overtook Robineau. Starting with a delay, the second race on the qualifying day saw Anderson take a short lead to cede it to Lenz. He dropped out a little later. An early collision of Smith Albacete saw his truck getting damaged. He continued undaunted however. Halfway into the race, Körber dropped out. Of the nineteen trucks that had entered the race, 15 saw the flag. Racing to secure his first ETRC win, Lenz seemed oblivious of the action unfolding behind. Janiec in the second position has Lacko and Hahn hot on his heels. Janiec held on till the penultimate lap, when Lacko shot past. Hahn too tried doing it, but did not succeed. He came fourth. Kiss came fifth.
The next day, it wasn’t exactly sunny. If the only women racer in her field, Steffi set the quickest time in her Iveco in the warm up lap earlier in the day, Hahn in an Iveco set a lap time of 2:02.701 seconds in the qualifying race that followed. André Kursim was next, again in an Iveco. He was very closely followed by Norbert Kiss in a Mercedes-Benz. Steffi, Reinert, Lacko and Lenz were very close behind each other, making up the rank and file of top ten. Also, a part were Albacete, Ryan Smith and Gerd Körber. Recording a super fast lap time of 2:02.262 seconds, Hahn seemed to be in a league of his own. A big fight ensued behind him with Kiss placed second. He was quicker than Halm, Reinert, Albacete, Lacko, Kursim, Lenz, Smith, and Körber. In the first race of the final race day, Hahn took the lead at the exit of first turn. Steffi was lightning quick and drew along side Kiss. Pursuing relentlessly, a few corners later she overtook him to occupy a place behind
Hahn who was leading. For the fourth position, Albacete feverishly tailed Reinert’s MAN through out the race. There was no change in position. For the sixth place, the fight was quite fierce too. Kursim in an Iveco was just about ahead of Lenz in a MAN. He kept ahead till the end however hard Lenz tried. A damaged rear tyre limited Lacko’s progress. He came eight.
The warm weather at the final race meant drivers felt the heat even more in their cabins where temperatures were higher due to the heat from the engine. Ryan Smith in a MAN race truck took an early lead with Lenz and Albacete hot on his heels. He not only took the lead, but also tried his best to pull away from the two, successfully increasing the time gap. Repulsing the constant attack of no less than four competitors, Kursim eventually lost it to Kiss and then Halm after what seemed like a lost battle. Reinert and Hahn continued to exert pressure on Kursim even as Kiss and Steffi continued to pull ahead. Kursim finished sixth. Reinert followed close to take the seventh place. The highlight of the race at Misano was the way Czech veteran Frankie Vojtíšek handled the situation. Large flames suddenly leapt from the rear of his truck as exploding fragments from a broken propeller shaft tore through the oil and diesel lines. The leaking fluids would have come in contact with the hot brake discs or exhaust muffler since a fire broke out. The truck appeared to have been enveloped in flames. A large plume of black smoke visible. Vojtíšek’s kept his calm, and brought his truck to a halt. To keep cool in such circumstances is something that a veteran can only do, many opined as they watched the truck go up in flames. Misano for Hahn turned out be auspicious this time. Just a year ago the German met his Waterloo at this circuit as the engine of the Iveco he was piloting packed up. If Lacko seemed to take time to find his form at this race, and felt a far cry from his startling performance last year, Steffi put on a strong show. She drove one of the best races of her career to finish fourth.