Champion on champions
This year, European truck racing is heading into the 2nd decade of the new millennium. The previous nine years (as a championship title was not awarded in the previous season) gave us three champions. A two-time European champion (2008, 2009) David Vršecký now rate all of them.
1. Jochen Hahn (1974, Germany, MAN, Iveco, 2011 – 2013, 2016, 2018 – 2019)
David: “I remember, it was the final race in Jarama, 2007, Jochen was going around the paddock, saying goodbye to everyone as Mercedes ended its support to truck racing. However, Jochen then took a stylish victory in the final race, just to take on a new challenge with MAN next year. It didn’t look so promising at first, but now, he’s a six-time champion and the former vehicle destroyer, he’s the most successful truck racing driver in history. I think that when he won in 2011, it had a positive effect on him and since then, he knows he doesn’t have to prove himself anymore. He surprised me in 2012 when he was fighting for the championship with Albacete. Antonio was in the lead, but then he crashed out in Jarama, just a week before the final race at Le Mans. So, for him to be able to race in Jarama on Sunday, and then at Le Mans, he had to switch to Markus Östreich’s truck, and he needed all drivers to sign it. Not many people liked Antonio, but Jochen was the first to sign and he actually went to convince others to sign it as well. A very complex driver, who doesn’t make errors and is one of the very few to win a championship title for two different manufacturers.”
2. Norbert Kiss (1985, Hungary, MAN, 2014 – 2015)
David: “I’m not sure – would have Jochen sold him his old special if he knew what’s going to happen next? He’s a driver who grew up on simulators. He replaced another Hungarian, Balász Szóbi, who was killed in a plane crash in 2010. He was very fast since the beginning, but he needed some more humbleness. That changed after Smolensk, where Adam almost killed him when his brake discs broke down and the passenger’s doors. He dominantly won his championship, before he switched to Mercedes, for reasons that are unknown to me. He’s still pretty fast, but in racing, it’s always about a machine as well. So, let’s wait and see.”
3. Adam Lacko (1984, Czech Republic, Buggyra, 2017)
David: ”When you were driving with someone in the same team for four years, and then working together for another four years, it’s tough to rate that person. I remember his first race, it was Estoril in 2003, and he finished in 4th place. Or Le Mans back in 2004, and his reverse overtake on a two-time champion Harri Luostarinen. He survived the season with Egon Allgauer at MKR Technology and he joined us in 2013 as a complete driver. He took his championship victory in a dominant fashion, he’s consistent, he knows what he wants and how to get it. Last year, he would have won if it wasn’t for COVID-19, but he’s going to do it this year.”