Albacete on his FIA ETRC return
Antonio Albacete returns to the FIA European Truck Racing Championship in 2017 after a season away last year.
The great Spaniard, who has won the title three times in 2005, 2006 and 2010 joins the Truck Sport Bernau team in its MAN challenger.
We caught up with Antonio as he continues to prepare for the season ahead which kicks-off at Red Bull Ring in five weeks time.
How did the deal with Lutz happen? I guess you have known each other for many years?
“Lutz and I began working together in 2005 just after he retired from racing.We were very successful together winning the driver´s championship already in 2005, repeating that in 2006 and 2010, but also winning three Team Championships with Uwe Nittel, Markus Östreich and Markus Bösiger.
“This year Lutz had a vacant seat and offered me to race again and of course I accepted.
How frustrating was it sitting on the sidelines in 2016?
“I was indeed frustrated given that both my team and me were very competitive and ended 2015 winning races and fighting for Pole Positions.
“It was a shame to watch races from the outside, but this is part of motorsport.”
What are the pre-season testing plans for you and the team?
“We are planning to do a short pre-season test at Autodrom Most in the third week of April. This test is important for me to bond with the team and to get back the feeling with the truck. Also we will see the trucks from other teams which will be interesting.”
Tell us about the truck for 2017?
“The truck is not new, it´s Ellen Lohr´s truck from 2015 and 2016. I drove it in Jarama the day after the race last October for a few laps and it is a little different from mine in 2015 but quite similar in general handling terms.
What are your immediate aims for the season ahead?
“I want to adapt the truck to my driving style and make little but constant improvements to be more competitive as the season progresses.
How do you read the opposition in 2017? Who do you expect to be at the front?
“It is difficult to say in this moment as there have been many changes during the winter and we don´t have the final entry list yet.
“I believe that the main contenders will be Hahn, Lacko and Kiss. Obviously Jochen Hahn as reigning champion will be in front from the very beginning despite driving a new truck (IVECO).
“Norbert Kiss was very competitive with the Mercedes and I´m sure that Stefan Honens made him a top truck this year.
“Adam Lacko is always a top contender and almost won the championship last year. I´m sure he will be at the top once again.
“I expect to be fighting with them. My MAN is probably the most reliable of the top trucks and we´ll be very fast as well.
There are other drivers to look out for like Körber, Robineau, Lenz or Vojtisek, especially on reverse grids. Like every year, it will be a combination of speed, reliability and luck which will see success.
Jarama will be the finale in 2017. How much are you looking forward to your home event?
“Although I´ve been racing during 2016 with touring cars and on the Lamera Cup, to be back in Jarama with a truck is a totally different experience.
“The Spanish fans have supported us not just last year but in the last 20 years that I´ve been involved in truck racing.
“They deserve the best and I will try to thank them by making a good show in my home race.”