December 16, 2016

FIA ETRC: A Family Affair

The final round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship season in Le Mans last October saw Jochen Hahn lift the 2016 Drivers’ Championship trophy after a season-long battle with Adam Lacko. Fittingly Lacko was the first to congratulate his title rival and long-term friends, and Mrs Hahn and Mrs Lacko were seen hugging each other perfectly reflecting the respect which exists off-track in the FIA ETRC.

The European Truck Racing championship is hard fought and exciting racing, but it has a rather unique atmosphere for an international FIA championship. The paddock feels like a family and this is one of the reasons why it is such a great event for fans of all ages to come to.

Who better than Mrs Hahn and Lacko to give us a glimpse about what makes truck racing such a great experience.

Katerina Lacko: “It is a special feeling and actually most drivers and team personnel sleep in motorhomes in the paddock, which helps with this family atmosphere.

“I don’t think this is something that other FIA Series competitors and teams do much. I mean we are lucky to have nice motorhomes, so we can take a shower, but there is also more socialising and interaction this way I think.”

It has always been a championship which involves whole families with generations of racers. Current drivers Sasha Lenz and Jochen Hahn are both the sons of former European truck racers, Heinz Werner Lenz and Konrad Hahn respectively. Eduardo Rodrigues was very proud to have both his son and grandson join him on the grid in Jarama as one event entrants in October.

Silvia Lenz, Sasha’s mother, is the Team Manager of S.L. Racing Germany and Diana (Hahn) explains what a family feel Hahn Racing has too.

“I was with Jochen and then Konnie (Konrad Hahn, Jochen’s father) started to compete and Jochen was then the mechanic for him. Then after about three years Jochen started to race and after that I learnt the business about being the Team Manager,” Diana Hahn told us.

“We do this together, that way it works. Konnie is still in the team at every race and now our son is involved and he works as a mechanic and our daughter also helps out in the fan shop when she is with us.”

We can already see future potential FIA ETRC drivers with some of the children who travel with their families including Adam and Katerina’s son, Nicky.

“Adam is a really family based person so he likes to have us there,” says Katerina Lacko. “People may ask if maybe Adam needs his peace. But I asked him and he said no, he doesn’t have to worry about us and actually I think it helps him. Children have always been a big part of truck racing, so it is very natural to have us all at races”

Truck racing is highly competitive on track and thousands of fans enjoy some of the most exciting motor racing by these giants of motorsport. However, off the track the teams really help each other out if needed.

Jochen Hahn was voted Drivers’ Driver’ in the FIA ETRC awards ceremony, both for his racing skills, but also for the manner in which he goes racing. Many drivers including Sasha Lenz, Shane Brereton and John Hemming cited how he has helped them with advice and extra parts during the season. However, he is not alone and both Katerina (Lacko) and Diana (Hahn) recall how the teams rallied to  help fix Frankie Vojtíšek’s truck after the clash with Norbert Kiss in Hungary back in August.

“A lot of the teams tried to help him (Frankie Vojtíšek) make sure his truck was fixed to compete in the Most event which was only a week later,” recalls Katerina. “So there were mechanics from the different teams working to get it fixed.”

“Yes, Jochen and the team definitely helped Frankie,” adds Hahn. “Most was his home race and he had a new sponsor so it was important, but then unfortunately he had injured his leg and couldn’t compete.”

As well as having a good feeling between the teams, the FIA ETRC championship welcomes fans into the heart of the paddock. This fan friendly approach is something that new championship promotors, the European Truck Racing Association GmBh are keen to maintain and develop.

In 2016 they introduce a Fan Village in the paddock with lots of entertainment for the fans with driver autograph sessions, slot car racing and simulators and there are plans to expand on this in 2017.

As Diana (Hahn) says: “We are very near to the fans, they can come and speak to the drivers and to the mechanics and this makes it so special in comparison to other motorsports.

“Children just love trucks don’t they. We have a group of children at our home event (Nürburgring) and we have a group every year and they just come and they look and ask questions and they enjoy being at the race.”

“I agree. Also Adam has competed in other series and I have been there and can compare these to truck racing,” agrees Lacko. “So let me tell you, I have been in  GTs and WTCC paddocks with lots of circuits and teams and I just love this series. There is so much more action, you get four FIA ETRC races per weekend, plus all their other sessions. Then you have a great programme of things to do for the whole family.

“In many of the other series you just don’t get close to the drivers or vehicles and if you want to go into the paddock the access is very restricted, or you have to pay a lot of extra money to get in. You don’t get to meet the drivers or see anything, but here you chat to the drivers and they will answer your questions.

“The fans are so good, they just love the trucks and the events are just getting bigger, I have really noticed it this year. Nürburgring programme has always been very busy, but Most was big this year and in Le Mans they have so much going on for fans, even through the night with fireworks, a concert and a nightclub.

The FIA ETRC is a really family affair in the paddock and a great event for families to come to, as Diana Hahn says:

“When the guests come to visit, I always say there is so much to do for everyone, whether it be the individuals or whole family as you obviously have the racing, but then so much to do around the circuits.”

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