When Touring Cars Meet Trucks!
The FIA World Touring Car Cup (FIA WTCR) joined the FIA European Truck Racing Championship last weekend at the Slovakia Ring. Being on the same bill provided some of the stars involved in the touring car series with the opportunity to discover the unique world of truck racing.
Several touring car drivers took part in the VIP rides held on Friday morning.
Local ace Mato Homola joined Adam Lacko in his Freightliner run by Buggyra International Racing System.
Hungarian superstar Norbert Michelisz joined his namesake, Kiss, aboard his Team Tankpool24 Racing Mercedes-Benz truck.
Spanish racer Pepe Oriola teamed up with his compatriot Antonio Albacete in the Truck Sport Lutz Bernau MAN while three-time British Touring Car Championship title-winner Gordon Shedden jumped aboard the Team Hahn Racing IVECO driven by current championship leader Jochen Hahn.
"It was really impressive, honestly. The car has a maximum speed of 160km/h but it reaches it really quickly and breaking with such a heavy car is impressive. The turning has to be a bit smoother than with our cars but it must be big fun because it’s oversteering a lot” said Homola.
“I was really looking forward to having a chance of driving with Norbi. I’ve known him for many years and he’s a good friend of mine," explained Michelisz.
"Not many people know but I tested a truck in 2009, so I knew a little what to expect. [The truck] is moving much more under acceleration because you don’t really have the weight and the grip on the rear wheels. Norbi was sliding in almost every corner. I enjoyed it a lot and to experience this speed, sitting that high is something very different. 160km/h feels like more than enough," he concluded.
“It was actually amazing, especially the breaks and how they manage understeer and oversteer, it was quite interesting,” admitted Oriola, moments after leaving Albacete’s MAN.
“It’s the first time I’ve been in a racing truck and the first thing that struck you is the difference in view. For me, it’s the braking and stopping capability that's the biggest shock. From the outside it looks just like a truck, it looks big, but there’s a lot more performance in it that than you think,” said Shedden.
The Audi ace was also impressed by the driving skills required to master the 5.3-ton truck.
“Jochen runs it on the torque of the engine, really making sure he has a maximum torque at the right time in the corner to come off the corner – a very different driving skill but you can see that there’s a lot of thought going on there to maximise what he has,” he added.
During a common photo-shoot, three-time FIA ETRC champion Antonio Albacete met his rival from the pre-truck racing chapter of his career, current FIA WTCR points leader Gabriele Tarquini. The two raced against each other in the Spanish Touring Car Championship back in the 1990s.
Reigning FIA ETRC champion Lacko joined tin-top ace Tom Coronel for a lap of the circuit in his Honda Civic TCR car. “It was really nice and it reminded me of my young years. It was fast and the car worked well. I think Tom was pushing because in every fast corner we had a bit of oversteer,“ said Lacko who had made several FIA WTCC appearances back in 2005.
Finally, during the post-race FIA WTCR press conference on Sunday, Michelisz referred to truck racing once again. “I’ve always wanted to visit a truck race, but I’ve never been able to in Hungary,” he admitted.
“I was really happy when I heard the news that we’re coming to Slovakia as a guest of the FIA ETRC. I think it’s something really good. If possible, we should do it more often. As a fan, as a spectator, having a crowded race weekend with quality racing series is always very nice. I watched the first truck race from a grandstand and the atmosphere was amazing.”