• Running on diesel and adrenaline: an interview with European Champion Jochen Hahn about his incessant passion for truck racing.

  • Running on diesel and adrenaline: an interview with European Champion Jochen Hahn about his incessant passion for truck racing.

Motorsport XXL: Jochen Hahn and his team have already won five ETRC European Truck Racing Championships. In this interview he talks about the fascination of truck racing, the crucial role of brakes in a successful race, and the long-standing partnership with Knorr-Bremse.

You first took the wheel of your father's truck 20 years ago. Was this the perfect introduction to a career in truck racing?

Lots of boys want to be firemen or racing drivers when they grow up. Luckily for me, my father also shared that dream and fulfilled when he began competing in truck races in 1997. From his first day of racing, this was also my greatest wish, and in the year 2000 it suddenly came true when my father had to withdraw from a race due to injury and handed over the race truck to me.

Did you have enough driving experience by that time?

From 1998 I was able to drive many practice laps around the test site with the truck – like our son Lukas, who has been behind the wheel of a racing truck for ten years and will make his European Truck Racing Championship debut at the Nürburgring this year at the age of 21. In that sense I had plenty of previous experience and wasn’t thrown in at the deep end. But training has little in common with real competitions like the ETRC. You have to learn how to handle this first. You don't have any idea where you stand yet, you have incredible respect for your rivals, you’re full of adrenaline and excitement.

What makes a racing truck so attractive to you?

Power is the decisive factor. Our racing truck weighs 5.3 tons, delivers 1,150 horsepower and 6,000 Newton-meters of torque, and accelerates from 60 to 160 km/h in 6.5 seconds. It could reach top speeds of 300 km/h, though due to its high weight, a maximum of 160 km/h is permitted. Safety comes first. That's why the ETRC is the only race series in the world with a speed limit.

How does your Iveco compare to a regular truck?

There are many parallels. The truck is made up of 70 percent series parts. But not everything comes from one manufacturer. We pick out the parts that suit us best from a product portfolio, like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. We consider this the fine art of vehicle design and construction – including the technical equipment, which also incorporates many series products. That’s what makes it so interesting for manufacturers like Knorr-Bremse to work with us. We can try out new innovations and perform tests very quickly under the toughest conditions. 300 kilometers on the racetrack are equivalent to 50,000 on the road; a brake caliper is practically worn out after 500 kilometers. Every partnership is about fully exploiting every possibility to drive success on both sides.

Who approaches whom when it comes to product questions in truck racing?

When Knorr-Bremse has a new product that could benefit our racing capabilities, we receive a proposal. Our contact person visits us regularly to exchange views and ideas. But we also ask if there are parts in a certain area that we could use in the ETRC. Our partnership with Knorr-Bremse began with a brake pad. That turned into a brake disc, which then became a brake caliper. Today we have access to the entire portfolio, plus those of Knorr-Bremse subsidiaries like SteeringSystems for steering. After 15 years of working with Knorr-Bremse, it's like being part of a family: you have a challenge or an idea and you work together to find the optimal solution.

People presume the engine is most crucial for getting up to speed. But in truck racing, the brakes appear to be equally relevant.

Truck racing isn't just about driving fast, it's also about braking rapidly and precisely in certain sections of the track, such as tight bends. In this respect, the brakes are just as integral as the engine. Fortunately, we have had plenty of time to mature and develop further in tandem with the technology, both in driving and in vehicle design and construction. And by the way, I would never have this level of success on my own. In our team of ten, everyone plays their part. Because every part of our machine has to slot perfectly into place. For me it's a big plus that my father, my wife and my son are also part of the truck racing team, working close by in the background. We complement and support each other very well as a family.

What is your goal for the 2019 truck racing season?

We are well prepared and have made many advances by working with all our partners throughout the winter. Our success in the first races reflects this. Now we must remain calm and continue to work consistently. We have a chance of winning a sixth European Truck Racing Championship title this year, which no one has ever managed before. Naturally, that would be my greatest wish. Ultimately, other factors such as staying fit and having a slice of luck also play a role in the ETRC.

Is the race at the Nürburgring a highlight for you?

Definitely! I love the track itself. What's more, absolutely everyone gets caught up in the fever of the Truck Grand Prix at the Nürburgring and comes to cheer us on – fans, family, friends, associates and partners. Naturally, as a German team, all eyes are on us. That’s why personally I’m often left with little time to focus and rest. What’s more, all the activity surrounding the Grand Prix increases the pressure on me to perform. My mind must be absolutely clear and focused when it comes to the race, otherwise there’s no point in me lining up against the rival trucks.

When and where do you get a chance to unwind?

Right after the last truck race of a season, it's vital to start making the first preparations for a professional start to the next season – whether you’re constructing a new vehicle or making further improvements. To be honest, our six-month winter break is the most stressful time of year. In the summer there are service and maintenance jobs between the races, but few changes are made to the vehicle. Since we enjoy travelling and meeting new people all around Europe, this is actually our more relaxed phase, except for the competitions themselves.

Jochen Hahn in action at the Truck Race - Knorr-Bremse series products under extreme test.

Dream team: Jochen Hahn and his Iveco truck, which is continuously improved with the latest top products.

Battle of the giants: the Iveco truck from Team Hahn Racing weighs 5.3 tons, delivers 1,150 horsepower and accelerates from 60 to 160 km/h in 6.5 seconds.

Racing trucks can reach top speeds of up to 300 km/h. For safety reasons there is a speed limit of 160 km/h.

Team Hahn Racing lines up in four truck races on each of the eight weekends of the season.

Info

Knorr-Bremse as a long-standing partner and sponsor of Team Hahn Racing:

  • Knorr-Bremse has supported the Hahn Racing truck sport team since 2001 – initially with suitable parts for the braking system, then also as a technical partner. Knorr-Bremse became an official sponsor in 2003; Knorr-Bremse TruckServices has been on board as sponsor for the aftermarket since 2016.
  • Apart from the brake water cooling system, the Knorr-Bremse products installed are series-produced, including a steering system from Knorr-Bremse SteeringSystems.
  • For many years, a Knorr-Bremse Race Engineer has supported Team Hahn Racing, assisting with expertise in the company's products and systems.
  • Extreme situations like truck racing are extremely difficult to reproduce on the test bench. Knorr-Bremse therefore uses the knowledge gained from the truck races to (further) develop its series products. For example, the enormous heat stress is particularly useful for drawing conclusions about the strength and temperature resistance of brakes, pads and discs.
  • In 2019, Knorr-Bremse extended its contract with Team Hahn Racing for a further three years – proof of the trust that has grown over many years and of a very friendly and dependable relationship.
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