Last weekend the T Sport Bernau team attended the final round of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship which took place at Antonio’s home circuit of Jarama, near Madrid. Antonio entered the weekend only 2 points behind Sascha Lenz who was in third position in the overall championship standings. There was a lot of excitement and trepidation among the team as to whether Antonio could clinch third position from him at the last minute.
After the servicing of the trucks the entire FIA ETRC paddock traveled straight to Jarama from Le Mans meaning all teams arrived by Wednesday afternoon. This gave plenty of time for us to prepare the truck and for the engineers to find the optimal setup for the challenging Jarama circuit.
The weekend began in the usual format of two free practice sessions followed by qualifying. Antonio was able to show some excellent pace from the start. After an outstanding lap in the superpole session he found him self lining up on the front row of the grid for the start of the first race, second only to this years champion, Norbert Kiss.
There was a lot of excitement on the grid after the race start had been delayed due to track repairs that had taken place earlier in the day. The drivers were keen to get racing and unfortunately there were multiple collisions that took place at the start of the race meaning a red flag was waved, adding another delay to proceedings. Luckily Antonio was not involved in any of the incidents and was able to once again line up in second position on the grid for the restart. Antonio gave it his all, chasing Norbert Kiss throughout the race before eventually crossing the finish line to bring home a second place finish, securing a great haul of championship points and putting Antonio ahead of Sascha Lenz in the championship standings.
The second race of the weekend was a little more challenging. Due to the reverse grid format Antonio started the race from the middle of the field. He fought hard trying to gain places. After some skilful racing Antonio was able to stay out of trouble and brought the truck home in eighth position without any damage. Unfortunately for Antonio his championship rival started ahead of him on the road and was able to hold his position, swinging the championship battle back into Sascha’s favour.
Sunday morning and the times were reset. After another great qualifying and superpole session Antonio lined up on the second row for the penultimate race in the championship, alongside Lenz. Antonio got away well, and fought hard to try and gain places. Antonio was locked into a close three way battle for second place throughout the race, with each of drivers attempting to make moves to gain places over the other. Ultimately Antonio once again managed to avoid any contact and damage to bring the truck home for a fourth place finish, narrowly missing out on the podium and unfortunately behind his championship rival.
The final race of the year and third place in the standings was still not confirmed with both Antonio and Sascha still in the fight. However Antonio started the race with a points deficit to Sascha and would need luck on his side if he were to overtake him in the last race of the season. Antonio made an excellent start and was able to move up into the top 3 running trucks, fighting hard to try and gain extra places and points. Towards the end of the race Norbert Kiss was able to make an overtaking move on Antonio, meaning he crossed the line in fourth position once again, narrowly missing out on a final podium of the season.
After the final race had finished and the points had all been counted, Antonio finished the championship in fourth position only five points behind Sascha Lenz for third. It has been an extremely close fought battle throughout the season with the final results showing how every point counts.
Now it’s time to celebrate all our achievements from this year, the team and the truck have made a great impact on the championship and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the season. We have already shifted our focus to the 2024 season and plans are already being put in place for next year. With some hard work at the workshop throughout the winter we are hopeful we can come back stronger next year and once again fight for a podium place in the championship standings.