Sep 14, 2020
By Melanie Derflinger – T Sport Bernau
Last weekend the T Sport Bernau team competed at Circuit Zolder in Belgium for the second race weekend of the season. The grid comprised a mix of teams from both the European Truck Racing Championship and the Dutch Truck Racing Cup.
The team decided to stick to the original schedule and race at Zolder. This was a decision made mainly to allow some more track time for Antonio and the team to continue optimising the set-up of our brand new truck, but also to test some changes that we had made to the brake system after our last outing at Most in Czech Republic a fortnight ago.
It was a challenging week running up to the weekend in Zolder trying to organise all the relevant paperwork and entry requirements for the team to enter Belgium safely under the current circumstances. With everything organised and cleared, the team set off from the workshop in Germany on Thursday morning, with Antonio and Justo, our data engineer, flying in from Madrid on Friday, just in time for Antonio to attend the drivers briefing. Later on Friday there were two free practice sessions and it was soon clear for the team to see that the hard work had paid off with a fantastic improvement in overall pace on the track. Antonio was happy with the changes made to the brake system and felt more confident attacking corners at high speed. A real positive heading into the weekend, with expectations of a successful weekend ahead.
Saturday morning started extremely well with Antonio qualifying in a fantastic 4th place. Unfortunately, due to a different speed control system being used on the truck, the stewards were alerted to a possible over speed by our truck, resulting in them deleting all of Antonio’s qualification lap times. This overspeed was caused by the system showing a single spike in speed on one occasion during the 20-minute qualifying session. Ultimately Antonio was forced to start the race from the back of the grid.
Race 1 began and Antonio was able to quickly make up places. Moving up to a well-earned 9th position by the end of the race, showing good lap times and good pace, giving the team confidence going forward through the weekend. However, it appeared it wasn’t our day. The second race started well, with Antonio once again on an overtaking mission and moving up the field, building on the 9th position he had earned from the first race. Unfortunately during the race, he was involved in a chain reaction crash, where he was hit from behind under braking which shunted him forward and into the rear of the trucks in front, sustaining considerable damage to both the rear and front of our brand new truck in the process. Despite the damage Antonio managed to bring the truck home in a respectable 8th place.
The team worked late into the night, mounting new front and rear bumpers and new panels on the front of the truck, as well as completing a service on the truck to ensure it was in top condition ready for day 2 of the race weekend.
Sunday started well, with Antonio qualifying in 3rd position, bringing smiles to the teams faces as he reassured everyone that the pace was still there. He held his position well for the first race a brought the truck home for a podium finish and the first silverware of the season, finishing third. The top 7 starting positions for second race of the day are decided by reversing the results from race 1. Meaning Antonio would start the second race in 5th position. He once again showed his skill and experience, gaining 2 positions during the race, bringing home another podium finish in 3rd position.
With 2 podium finishes under our belts, Antonio and the team are feeling real confidence going forward in the season. There is more work to be done and more improvements to be made back at our workshop in Germany. The team are confident we can build on our successes in Zolder and progress further up the rankings at Antonio’s home race in Jarama, Spain in only 2 weeks’ time.
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