Midterm report - part 2
Steffi Halm in her Reinert Racing-run MAN impressed this season, there’s no question about that. Two race wins and five further podium finishes were enough for fourth in the standings with 133 points to her name.
But there’s also been some frustration during the first phase of the season. This was the performance at her home round at the Nürburgring. In mixed conditions Halm only managed to achieve a best finish of fifth over that weekend. If it wasn’t for this, she could have been the biggest threat to Lacko’s title challenge after a largely excellent run this season.
Three-time championAntonio Albacete made a popular comeback this season following a year spent away from FIA ETRC racing and the Spaniard needed some time to find his feet once again.
After a turbulent start to the season and some mixed fortunes (a shunt in race two at the Nürburgring) the experienced driver finally took his Truck Sport Lutz Bernau MAN to a victory in race two at the Slovakia Ring. It was an emotional one as it was his 100th FIA ETRC event and his first win since Le Mans in 2015. Now, with 109 points to his name, Albacete sits fifth in the standings and on the tail of the chasing pack.
Another great story of the first half of the season was Gerd Körber celebrating thirty years of competition in the European championship. The great German racer started out in truck racing all the way back in 1987 and remained involved in his beloved discipline for three decades. Now, despite being in his fifties, he’s still a formidable competitor capable of delivering podium finishes in the right circumstances.
Sascha Lenz has again shown a lot of promise in his SL Trucksport MAN with several eye-catching performances. The German though has been blighted by ill-fortune such as being taken out in an accident not of his making at Nurburgring.
Another returnee to the FIA ETRC was David Vršecký who scored points at Nürburgring and Slovakia Ring as teammate to Lacko at Buggyra International Racing System.
One of the best cameos of the season so far came from Anthony Janiec who brought his distinctive Lion Truck Racing MAN to the Nürburgring races. A fine second and third place finishes during the weekend is likely to be enough motivation to get the Frenchman back for more races later in the season.
New for this year the Promoter’s Cup was an instant hit. Inspired by sports car racing, drivers’ categorization was introduced with the field of drivers, based on experience and achievements, being divided into titanium and chrome categories.
The Promoter’s Cup allowed the slightly less experienced ‘chrome’ drivers to have their time in the limelight. Team Tankpool24 Racing’s André Kursim and Reboconorte MAN driver José Rodrigues created a thrilling spectacle being involved in countless on track encounters.
Furthermore, Rodrigues managed to take an overall win in race two at the Red Bull Ring, being the first ever Portuguese driver to win in an FIA ETRC event. Now Rodrigues is only eight points ahead of his German rival and it’s all to play for between the two arch rivals after an epic contest in the first half of the year.
The cup also allowed rookies such as Steffen Faas to make a good first impression in truck racing and brought back some familiar faces from the past who compete on a race-by-race basis this year, with the likes ofErwin Kleinnagelvoort, Thomas Robineau and Frankie Vojtisek all taking podiums during their appearances.
Looking back at the first four rounds of the year, we can be confident that the upcoming races will deliver at least as much thrills as the ones that already belong to the FIA ETRC’s history. Next stop: Hungaroring, August 26th-27th.