Past weekend, the second round of the European Championship trucktrial took place in the German town of Dreis-Brück. Alex Miedema was there to follow the ‘Young wheels of the World’ team. This team is easily recognizable by the strikingly painted Magirus-Deutz, with our own Katy on its nose.
The goal of the trucktrial sport is to drive between a set number of poles. This sounds easier than it really is, because the poles are placed in challenging and sometimes very hard to reach spots. The team that drives the track with the least penalties is the winner. Penalties can be given in multiple ways. Missing a set of poles costs 100 points. Driving over a pole costs 40 points, as does passing the same pole twice or driving past the pole of another class. Touching a pole costs 8 points, changing direction and rolling, or losing traction over distance greater than 10 centimeters is 3 points. On top of that, you get one penalty point for every 15 seconds in which you aren’t moving. This means its sometimes wiser to not drive through a pole and get a 100 point penalty, than to go to great lenghts to pass the pole but to be awarded even more penalty points in the proces.
A team is always made up of two persons, a driver and a co-driver. De co-driver has the most important job, without him or -often- her, the driver only sees half of what he needs to see. Speed doesn’t really play a role in trucktrial, which gives the sport a very laid back attitude.
Before, there was a very complicated class-system, based on wheelbase and track width. This has been made much simpler since last year, two-axle trucks, three-axle trucks, four-axle trucks and prototypes. The Mercedes Unimog is king of the two-axle trucks, whereas the Russians brands Ural and ZIL dominate the three-axle category. The Tatra’s used to reign in the four-axle category, but those were all absent in Dreis-Brück, which left the battle open between MAN and Mercedes. The prototypes often use an Unimog as base platform, but are often heavily modified. This could mean it has all-wheel steering, a changed drivers position for a better view and more. Rollcages are mandatory in all classes, because many trucks will roll during a race.
Because Dreis-Brück lies in the vulcanic Eiffel-area, the terrain was very particular. The loose structure of the volcanic soil meant it was very easy to lose traction when descending. The same applied to the hillclimbs. By using the right tires and low tire pressure, most teams managed to reach the end of the weekend relatively unscathed.
Young Wheels of the World
Most participants are German, French, Austrian or Czech. There is one Dutch team which drove a couple of laps during championship. The driver of this team is Dave Smit, son of trucktrial-legend Ron van Gemeren. He took over the wheel of his fathers Magirus-Deutz 6×6 last year. His co-driver for this year was Robert Wiebering who was able to work surprisingly well together with Dave. The chauffeur who transported the Magirus-Deutz from and to its destination was Peet Schouten.
With a finish in 8th position, the team didn’t finish in a high position. Dave Smit: “I think this was due to a lack of experience and the rain. Everything was slipperly, and with these old tires, you won’t get very far. We were the first team to drive from the highest mountain, which was very cool, but also quite scary. When you have to do a trial as the first team, you’re always at a disadvantage. You have to find the route all by yourself, while other teams can watch and learn from your mistakes. You’re also the one who smoothens the track for the others.”
The Magirus didn’t come out of the weekend without scratches. During one of the trials, it landed on its nose, which pushed the right side to the back. The truck is now misaligned and the rubbers and rear cabin are torn off. This means it is uncertain when ‘Young wheels of the world’ will be able to partake in its next race. This, according to Dave depends on money, reparations, co-driver and if he’s able to rent a tractor.