I arrived at Jarama Friday, around 16H30 local time and a little bit delayed for the FIA check-in at the circuit media centre. The last time I had been in Jarama for truck racing was in 1990 and the champion was Steve Parrish with his epic green Mercedes Benz NG 1450, with British Petrol as the main sponsor. It’s been 29 years and things are obviously a little different.
We parked at the circuit’s inner park and walked to the Media Centre. The last free practice session just ended, and the old Pegaso spreads the last jets of water while washing the track. Some team and family members take the opportunity to walk or bike around the circuit asphalt. It’s something that we definitely would also love to do, maybe next year.
The genuine feeling on arrival remains exactly the same as 29 years ago. The unique sun “Madrileño” warming the October afternoons. That permanent adrenaline while walking through the paddock. The diesel and burned rubber smell in the air. The hustle and bustle of mechanics and other staff elements at each pit box. Those who enjoy motorsport and a paddock environment clearly know what I am talking about.
Steve Parrish started a fantastic truck racing career in 1987. Parrish won five European Truck Racing and six British Truck Racing championships, constantly driving for the same team, the iconic and legendary BP-Mercedes Benz team. Parrish won the last title in 1996 at Jarama. The most successful truck racer ever retired in 2002 at the age of 47.
I am greeted by two kind staff members from Gran Premio Camion at the Media Center, who gave me the welcome kit and the press credentials. They informed me that the FIA safety briefing for reporters, photographers, and film crews would take place the day after at 7 am, it’s where they debrief the media agents about all the safety aspects and mandatory rules at the track.
Iconic and Legendary Circuit
Despite its fifty-two years of existence, the Jarama racetrack has been renewed several times over the years. All the administrative area, the VIP area, and the media centre are currently at the level of newly built circuits and providing quality infrastructures for those going there in business. The entire press area is properly organized, with high-speed wifi connection, electrical outlets and supporting furniture for media agents.
In October 2015 the Control Tower Building – Jarama Paddock Club was meticulously constructed and represented the first key milestone of a fundamental circuit renovation project entitled Jarama 2021. These remarkable facilities are intended for race directors and timing management, but also for corporate events.
We returned to the paddock after checking in, to see the sights and look for some of the other reasons leading us to Jarama this year. In the Truck Sport Lutz Bernau tent, there was a big meeting with dozens of familiar people, and some embraced among them, carefully listening to the speech of the three times world champion Antonio Albacete. Allow me to remind you that Jarama is always the last round of the FIA ETRC season and some embrace this opportunity to make public retrospectives and official recognitions of an entire and intense competition season.
We included two distinct entities with mandatory visits this year. One was the single Portuguese team at FIA ETRC, the Reboconort Racing Truck Team. Never in its entire history FIA or ETRC had three generations of the same family competing professionally. Eduardo Rodrigues, José Rodrigues and José Eduardo Rodrigues racing side by side, although in different categories.
The following and prime reason for our Jarama visit was clearly to meet the SCS Software team and their famous SCS Trailer. Their PR department kindly prepared our appointment during the previous week, and we were supposed to enjoy a brief meeting to know each other in person after all these years. But fortunately, it turned into a tremendous welcome by the Czech developer’s, including interviews with their community manager Daniel Nemiro and with Pavel Sebor, SCS Software CEO. You can read our SCS Software report in Jarama.
The next morning the temperature was relatively low in the circuit. The thermal range fluctuates a lot at this time of year in Madrid. The organization provided the safety briefing in Spanish and English, which among other things, prove FIA considers the safety in these racing events very seriously.
They supplied all the necessary information simply and effectively. There was a real-time alert system, via email, of all safety-related events on the track and consequent prohibitions to the press. I congratulate the organization once again for making all the information available to the press members, including a light breakfast at the Jarama media centre.
Jarama Media Centre is a modern and very functional facility. The entire press area is properly organized, with high-speed wifi connection, electrical outlets and supporting furniture for media agents. All the practice and race info are available in real-time.
In the paddock, at the “park ferme” area, the trucks lined up for the first qualifying sessions. We felt the intense adrenaline in the air, as the wait was definitely over and the pilots could finally enter the track for the initial laps and consequent adjustments. We walked around the pit lane during the first laps, having the chance to check the truck tunings and adjustments closely. It’s fascinating to see so much technology present at the ETRC.
Jarama provides several internal shuttles allowing media crews to travel along the circuit quickly and easily. It’s hard to handle all the equipment, and these vehicles were an enormous help when travelling to distant parts of the track.
Also, noteworthy is the circuit restaurant, Jarama Café, which despite being located within the circuit, can offer reasonable prices and a varied menu. It was my lunch point for the entire weekend.
Pace Truck & Pace Pete
Saturday I enjoyed the fantastic opportunity to drive some laps inside the official FIA ETRC Pace Truck. The secret driver identity remains as “Pace Pete”, all I can declare besides his tremendous driving skills is that he’s a very kind and polite person. The last time I’ve been inside of an Actros wasn’t for that kind of speed for sure; what an unforgettable experience!
Mercedes Benz – Actros 1851 was the official FIA ETRC Pace Truck for the second consecutive season. Fans and followers of the German brand were able to see it close in the circuit fan village and also commanding the race on each first lap. They had two Mercedes-Benz Actros at the Fan Village area in order everyone could have direct contact with such amazing trucks.
I would like expressing a word of enthusiastic appreciation to all the truckers taking their vehicles into the Jarama annual truck meeting. There were many special shiny trucks, some more peculiar than others, but there were machines for all passion kinds. It always amazes me to see so many American trucks are in Spain. It’s something we rarely observe in Portugal.
The weekend went with legitimate attention to the three-way duel between Jochen Hahn (DEU), Adam Lacko (CZE) and Antonio Albacete (ESP). The final victory went to Jochen Hahn (DEU) who had already been crowned European Champion the previous weekend at Le Mans circuit in France.
I do not bring you extended details about the races, drivers and competitions. For such information, there are specialized channels like the FIA ETRC and others. My core objective in this type of field report is focusing out of the mainstream issues and demonstrate to you things usually ignored by the specialized press. That is what I attempt to portray in this article.
There’s something exceptional about Jarama. Maybe it’s our nostalgia for being the first circuit visited in the ’80s. But this delightful combination that has been going on for 32 years between Jarama and the truck races is something unique and special.
See you in 2019 at the ETRC Spanish round.
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