There's something really magical about Jarama! Want to know what it is? Check the video!
We 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 main sponsor. It's been 29 years and things are obviously a little different.
We parked at 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 certainly would also love to do, maybe next year.
The 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 clearly know what I am talking about.
Steve Parrish started a fantastic truck racing career in 1987. Parrish won five European Truck Racing championships and six British Truck Racing championships, always driving for the 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. This is where they debrief the media agents about all the safety aspects and mandatory rules at the track.
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 center are currently at the level of newly built circuits and providing very good infrastructures for those going there in business. The entire press area is very well 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 constructed and meant the first milestone of an integral circuit renovation project entitled Jarama 2021. These amazing facilities are intended for race directors and timing management, but also for corporate events.
We returned to the paddock after checking in, in order to see the sights and look for some of the extra reasons that led us to Jarama this year. In the Truck Sport Lutz Bernau tent, there was a big meeting with dozens of people, some embraced among them, and carefully listening the speech of the three times world champion Antonio Albacete. Let me remind you that Jarama is always the last round of the FIA ETRC season and some take this opportunity to make public retrospectives and recognitions of an entire and intense competition season.
We clearly had two entities to visit this year. One was the unique Portuguese team at FIA ETRC, the Reboconort Racing Truck Team. Never in the entire history of FIA or ETRC have been three generations of the same family competing. Eduardo Rodrigues, José Rodrigues and José Eduardo Rodrigues compete side by side, albeit in different categories.
Rodrigues family from left to right, Eduardo (64), José (42) and José Eduardo (20) made history in 2016 racing together at the season finale in Jarama. It was the first time that three family generations of drivers had competed in the same FIA official race.
The second "extra" reason for our visit was clearly to visit the SCS Software team and their famous SCS Trailer. All was scheduled with only one week in advance, and what should have been a few minutes to meet them in person, turned out to be a very warm welcome, not only by their Community Manager Daniel Nemiro, but also with Pavel Sebor himself and totally available for an interview at our channel.
I quickly found the SCS trailer at the Jarama funzone, right next to the Roadstars Mercedes Benz and Good Year stands, this season's main sponsors. Everything was set up but there was no one from the SCS team present. I figured they had gone to rest for the Hotel. I did the live streams to my channels and I went to rest too.
The SCS Trailer travels around Europe, visiting gaming and transportation industry expositions and truck or transport related events. Being on the road allows SCS Software to advertize their games and meet fans from the community. It's also a great chance for the visitors interested in trying their games with the amazing 4D motions seats.
The next morning the temperature was quite 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 that FIA takes the safety in these racing events very seriously.
They supplied all the necessary information in a simply and effective way. 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 amazing Jarama media centre.
Jarama Media Centre is a modern and very funcional facility. The entire press area is very well organized, with high-speed wifi connection, electrical outlets and supporting furniture for media agents. All the practice and race info is availble in real-time.
In the paddock, at the "park ferme" area, the trucks were already lined up for the first qualifying sessions. We clearly felt the intense adrenaline in the air, as the wait was finally over and the pilots could finally get on track for the first laps and consequent adjustments. We walked around the pit lane after the first laps, and we had the chance to check the truck tunings and adjustments very closely. It's amazing how technology is so present at the ETRC.
Jarama had some amazing shuttles for all the media crews to travel along the circuit. It's not easy to carry so much equipment and these permanently available vehicles were a great help when traveling to other distant parts of the circuit. Definitely another great initiative of the organization.
Also noteworthy is the circuit restaurant, Jarama Café, which despite being located within the circuit, can offer very reasonable prices and a varied menu. It was my lunch point for the entire weekend.
A word of great appreciation to all the drivers who took their trucks to the Jarama circuit for the amazing truck meeting. There were a lot of special shinny trucks, some more special than others, there were trucks for all tastes. I am still amazed at how many American trucks are in Spain. It is something rarely seen in Portugal.
Saturday I had the amazing unique chance to drive some laps inside the official FIA ETRC Pace Truck. The driver identity remains as "Pace Pete", but all I can say is that besides his amazing driving skills, he's a very kind and polite person. The last time I was inside of a Mercedes Benz Actros, wasn't for speeding for sure. What an amazing 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 close contact with such amazing trucks.
The weekend went on normally with obvious 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 big extended details about the races, drivers and competitions. For such information, there are specialized channels such as the FIA ETRC itself. My main objective in this type of field report is to capture what no one normally captures, so that I can show you what rarely press focus on. That is what I try to portray in this article.
We already visited several European circuits, especially in the Iberian Peninsula, but there's something special about Jarama. Maybe it's our nostalgia, maybe because it was one of the firsts to visit in the 80's. But this magical combination that has been going on for 32 years between Jarama and the truck racing, is something unique. Next year we will be bringing you more of what no one normally focuses on.
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