Happy Hahn takes fourth FIA ETRC crown at Le Mans
Jochen Hahn clinched the FIA European Truck Racing Championship title for a fourth time by winning the opening race at Le Mans, his 13th race win of the season.
Starting from pole, Hahn endured a first-lap attack from Norbert Kiss to edge away from the opposition to win by over three seconds. Kiss took second from Hahn’s only championship rival Adam Lacko.
Hahn (MAN) triumphed in a dramatic opening race. Away from the line, a quick-starting Adam Lacko (Buggyra International Freightliner) dived to the inside of a defensive Norbert Kiss (Tankpool 24 Mercedes-Benz) who in turn made a move on the inside of pole-sitter Jochen Hahn.
As the leaders touched, Lacko went sideways and Kiss wriggled ahead to lead, only for Hahn to repass him at Virage de la Chapelle. Kiss accepted that he had run off the road and handed back the place to Hahn. Shane Brereton (MAN) capitalised on the first-corner drama, but was deemed to have gained an advantage in the fracas by running too far off the road and was given a drive-thru penalty that dropped him out of his fourth place.
Hahn struggled for the opening couple of laps with tyres that weren’t offering enough grip, but then the traction levels increased and Hahn built up the lead, lap by lap, leaving Kiss trailing in his wake.
Kiss in turn was content with his second place although he was unable to stay with the multiple champion as the race progressed. Instead, Kiss followed over the line the man who takes his FIA European Truck Racing Championship title.
As Hahn edged away from Kiss, Lacko (Freightliner) tried to consolidate his third place but came under pressure from a charging René Reinert (MAN). The two ran nose to tail with the German looking to assert himself, but the Buggyra-run truck of Lacko was quicker in a straight line and gradually widened the gap over the German haulier. A frustrated Lacko was struggling with understeer after the opening lap contact with Kiss broke something in the steering and it made life increasingly difficult for him as he saw his championship hopes slip away.
Behind the leading quartet, Steffi Halm (Reinert Racing) had a quiet race ahead of French ace Anthony Janiec who lost ground in the opening lap skirmishes at the Dunlop Esses. Janiec’s recovery was delayed when he tapped Gerd Körber’s Iveco into a spin on lap three.
Despite a big lock up at the Dunlop Esses, seventh fell to Ellen Lohr’s MAN, the Lutz Bernau-run rig staying ahead of Sascha Lenz (SL Racing Team Germany MAN) whose eighth place puts him on pole for the second race of the day. The two scrapped race long
Jiri Forman battled up to ninth from 15th on the grid, despite some front damage after some brave overtaking in the early laps, while the drive-through for Shane Brereton dropped him to 10th place.
For Hahn he now has three more races in the season to tackle without the pressure of fighting for a championship. With his win tally now 13 in 2016, it could well increase by Sunday evening.
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