MAN enters 2012 Truck Racing season with five top teams and new drivers
The FIA Truck Racing Championship 2012 begins with a premiere: for the first time, the race trucks will be competing on the F1 circuit in Istanbul. The race track in the Turkish metropolis is located on the far side of the Bosporus in the Asian part of Turkey. With the tracks in Smolensk (Russia) and Istanbul, the Truck Race series is now reaching new racing fans in markets that are important for MAN.
Head of Marketing at MAN, Björn Loose, who is simultaneously in charge of motor sport for the company, talks about the outlook: "The Truck Race fans can look forward to a particularly exciting season. With new teams and new drivers we have been able to put together a very interesting field of an even more varied international character. By doing so we are invigorating the competition and making our presence felt even more strongly amongst the fans. Our sporting goal for 2012 is clear: we're here to win!"
The field has changed considerably by comparison with last year. In the 2012 truck racing season, five MAN teams will be taking part with up to nine trucks. MAN will be equipping these teams with highly developed racing engines and providing extensive support from its experts at the MAN Engine Competence Center in Nuremberg.
Current European champion Jochen Hahn, who had been known as the "MAN in black", will be driving a completely newly styled, basically white MAN truck. With "1" as his race number for the first time, Hahn has a tricky balancing act ahead of him. He is both hunter and hunted and will be doing everything in his power to defend the title he won last year, while his competitors will naturally be doing everything they can to make this as difficult for him as possible.
René Reinert, haulage entrepreneur from Germany, is a newcomer to European Truck Racing championship this season. He is planning to participate in all the races. Reinert made contact with champion Jochen Hahn, who together with his team was responsible for the construction of Reinert's racing truck and will deal with service during the races jointly with the Reinert crew. René Reinert is new not only to truck racing but also to motor sport. In the past few months prior to the start of the new racing season he has been active as a guest driver in other series in order to gain experience for his entry into the heavyweight class. With success: the Lausitz businessman put together some very impressive lap times during MAN's tests in Nogaro.
Antonio Albacete is Hahn's main opponent in the MAN camp, being able to build on his continual success over several years. In 2011, the Spaniard was only beaten in the last few metres of a tense final to the season. This year, Albacete is again one of the constant factors in the field of drivers - as usual, the many-time champion's Cepsa-MAN was constructed by the team from Trucksport Bernau and it enters the new season with only slight external modifications.
Lutz Bernau in turn is putting a new but hardly novice driver at the helm of his team's MAN. In Dominique Lachèze, an old hand is now in the cockpit of the German team. Frenchman Lachèze has years of experience in truck sport, driving in the French Championship between 1994 and 2002 and taking a number of titles in the process. He subsequently moved to the FIA European Championship. Guesting in a Bernau truck three years ago, he made a first-class impression.
This season, the completely newly formed Frankie OXXO Racing Team will be at the start with three MAN race trucks and drivers from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Russia. Along with this new team, MAN has brought on board another player well-known amongst the drivers for his professionalism. "The winter break gave MAN the opportunity of getting Frankie Vojtíek and the Hungarian OXXO Team together, thus creating a magnet for the many truck racing fans from eastern Europe." In addition to Vojtíek (CZ) and Norbert Kiss (HU), who started at a furious pace in 2011, motorsport pro Alexander Lvov (RUS) will be the third of the drivers. The three MAN race trucks are being constructed by Vojtíek in the Czech Republic.
Race trucks already tested in Nogaro
The final preparations for the 2012 racing season took place on the circuit in Nogaro in south-western France, where the MAN teams met in April for the traditional test camp. The teams and MAN's engine technicians had worked hard in the months leading up to the tests in order to start the new season optimally prepared.
"We spent the winter break mainly optimising the software," reported Artur Klein, the team leader responsible at the engine development center in Nuremberg and as such coordinator of racing activities, during the tests at Nogaro. "And we added waste gates to the racing turbochargers: the drivers now have a significantly wider engine-speed range at their disposal. We also considerably improved the response of our race engines."
More stringent safety standards also entailed development work for the teams: "The FIA technical regulations that come into effect in 2012 are stricter with regard to passive safety facilities," added Klein. For example, the vehicle's roll cage and guards have to exhibit considerably greater mechanical strength.
FIA European Truck Racing Championship 2012
May 12/13 Istanbul (Turkey)
May 19/20 Misano (Italy)
June 9/10 Jarama (Spain)
June 23/24 Nogaro (France)
June 30 - July 1 Donington (GB)
July 13 – 15 Nürburgring (Germany)
July 28/29 Smolensk (Russia)
September 1/2 Most (Czech Republic)
September 22/23 Zolder (Belgium)
October 6/7 Jarama (Spain)
October 13/14 Le Mans (France)