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.

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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.

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