Check out our notebook form the official three-day FIA European Truck Racing Championship’s preseason testing held at Autodrom Most
- Several FIA ETRC outfits took part in the official preseason test session held between 15th and 17th of April at Autodrom Most in Czechia. Team Hahn Racing, Buggyra International Racing System, Team Schwabentruck, Reinert Racing, Truck Sport Lutz Bernau, SL Trucksport and Anderson Racing were all present.
- No test times were officially revealed as teams conducted their own individual private timing.
- French outfit Team Aravi, fielding a Renault truck driven by Lionel Montagne, and Former FIA ETRC racer Mika Mäkinen also took part in the test. Mäkinen drove his newly-acquired, Buggyra-built Freightliner previously used by Oly Janes in the British Truck Racing Championship. The Finn is understood to be closing on an FIA ETRC return this season.
- Aravi’s team principal Baptiste Boutain admitted that the French series is the team’s focus for the moment, however, a future FIA ETRC entry with the support from Renault is a possibility, especially if alternative powertrains are introduced, something which the FIA ETRC is actively evaluating.
- 2018 GRAMMER TRUCK CUP runner-up Steffen Faas received a last-minute call up to carry out set up work of Mäkkinen’s Freightliner. Faas, who has previous experience with IVECO and Mercedes-Benz trucks, praised the layout of the anteater-nose Freightliner, saying the fact the driver’s seat is located between the axles makes it “feel more like a race car”.
- It is understood that Faas is in talks with Mäkinen regarding a partial FIA ETRC campaign this year.
- Buggyra brought three trucks to the test. 2017 FIA ETRC title-winner Adam Lacko conducted a shakedown of a newly-built vehicle while the two other trucks were driven by Lacko’s team-mate Oly Janes and the outfit’s reserve and development driver, two-time series champion, David Vršecký.
"Our main focus [here] is Adam’s new truck," said Buggyra's team principal Jan Kalivoda. "If we want to compete with Jochen [Hahn], we have to put something new at the table. It’s working, but it’s so different that we have to learn how to even handle it. It’s only the gearbox that’s the same as last year, everything else is totally different."
"Usually, we did facelifts [inbetween seasons], this time we kept it the same [from the outside] and changed the whole truck. There are some problems but we were expecting even more problems than we’re facing, so the guys are optimistic. On the performance side, it looks that it has the potential to speed up [even more]."
- The truck has “a lot of baby sicknesses” revealed Lacko. “I have to learn about the braking, the turning – it’s the opposite of my old truck. It feels good though, but we will only know [where we are] at Misano."
- Lacko was also evaluating a new windscreen number design ahead of the season. The Czech racer described the sticker as "perfect", saying that it’s transparent when looked at from the inside of the cabin and it doesn’t obstruct the driver’s view.
- Team Hahn Racing had a strong presence during the test, fielding two trucks, one driven by reigning champion Jochen Hahn and the other by his son, Lukas, as part of the preparation for his truck racing debut during the FIA ETRC support race held at the Nürburgring, the ADAC Mittelrhein Cup.
- Hahn is set to use the same truck that he won the title with last year, however with an all-new livery, being very much a negative colour switch of the last year’s design. “We had the same design for the last five years or so, it was time for a change,” said Diana Hahn.
- Team Hahn Racing-built IVECO Daily prototype for the new LT4 Cup was also in action. Driving duties were shared by Lukas Hahn and Sascha Radulovic, who previously raced in the RCN GPL series that lies a tier below the VLN championship held at the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife. Third generation racer, Hahn, described being part of the FIA ETRC paddock feels like "a big dream coming true".
- René Reinert is set to bolster the presence of IVECO on the FIA ETRC grid as he’s completed the first brand switch of his truck racing career, having competed aboard a MAN for several years. "It’s a big change after seven years with MAN, but my wish was to have a new truck for the new season and IVECO has been a really competitive race truck recently – last year’s title-winning truck – so I’m happy to be part of the IVECO team," said Reinert.
- Europa Truck Trail competitor Marc Stegmaier and his co-driver Jan Plieninger were present at the test as guests of Reinert Racing. Both completed several laps in the passenger seat alongside Reinert in an exchange organised by their common sponsor, Euro Part. Previously Reinert got the chance to join Stegmaier aboard his truck built to take part in trail competitions.
- Sascha Lenz debuted newly-built MAN truck. Stefan Honens, who parted ways with Team Tankpool24 Racing following the end of last season, was supporting the SL Trucksport outfit during the test in engineering duties.
- André Kursim’s test was cut short by an engine issue. Just like during the 2017 FIA ETRC round held here, the German’s engine gave up after only a handful of laps completed, making him lose the majority of on-track running. Kursim suggested that the issue could be related to the accident the truck was in at last year's season finale at Jarama and the water cooling problems that followed. "Most is not my favorite track. Every year there's something else," he said.
- Truck Sport Lutz Bernau brought a pair of MANs for its regular duo, Antonio Albacete and Luis Recuenco. Both Spaniards admitted that the trucks are largely unchanged compared to last year and that the running was mainly about fine-tuning and set-up work. Recuenco said that he doesn't set himself any targets for the upcoming season but admitted that he's "growing up" as a driver with every lap completed.
- Kursim wasn’t the only driver to suffer engine problems at Most – Jamie Anderson experienced a similar issue in his MAN. The problem was, however, solved overnight and Anderson was able to resume his testing programme. Following winter’s overhaul, the Anderson Racing truck is now running in a largely white livery, according to its driver being “ready for sponsors”.
- Team Tankpool24 Racing with their pair of Mercedes-Benz trucks as well as Shane Brereton and his MAN were the main absentees of the test. It is understood that in both cases the trucks weren’t prepared in time. Tankpool24 Racing, however, has revealed the livery in which the trucks of two-time champion Norbert Kiss and his yet to be named team-mate will run this season.