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Truck racers are driven to succeed

Updated: 2014-12-27 08:11
By Xu Wei (China Daily)

 Truck racers are driven to succeed

Truck racer Zhao Da'an says the sport brings a sense of achievement to drivers and also offers a release in terms of mental pressure. Provided to China Daily

After 10 years as a truck racer, Zhao Da'an hasn't lost his passion for speed.

"For one second, all you can see is the sky in your cockpit. The next second all you can see is the ground," said the native of Xi'an, capital of Shannxi province, referring to the thrills offered by the tricky terrain that racers have to traverse.

China Super Truck Racing has maintained its grassroots connections, offering drivers from all over the country a platform to showcase their skills in circuits filled with mud, ditches and steep slopes.

More than half of the 40 racers in the event were formerly commercial truck drivers, including Zhao, who piloted a cargo truck for a department store prior to joining the competition.

"I learned about the racing from my father, who is also a truck driver," he said.

"I had a dream to become a professional racer in my childhood. Yet motor racing is generally an expensive game and my family could not afford it."

Zhao spent years studying truck racing before taking the plunge.

"For a majority of racers, the most attractive part of the race is that you do not have to pay for the vehicle or maintenance, and the registration fee is very low," he said.

"The sport brings a sense of achievement to drivers and also offers a release in terms of mental pressure."

Hou Hongning, champion of the 2014 China Super Truck Racing tournament, was a driver for a logistics company before joining the competition. Li Yang, another racer at this year's event, became the first Chinese racer to the complete the truck class of the Dakar Rally in 2010.

"The tournament has provided the turning points of many truck drivers' lives," Zhao said.

A sport that was started in the US in the late 1970s, truck racing has a relatively short history in China. It was first held in 2003 and was upgraded a circuit obstacle race in 2009.

Unlike Europe or North America, vehicles in China are provided by a single truck maker, which also uses the tournament to promote its products.

"Here is more like something in between the racing circuit and rally racing. It is more like a rally championship," said Jan Kalivoda, manager of the FIA European Championship team Buggyra from the Czech Republic, who also took part in the final of the 2014 China Super Truck Racing in Xintian county, Hunan province.

"You make only one lap. But this is more interesting for the spectators because they can see the whole event within a single circuit."

Kalivoda said the fact China Super Truck Racing is sponsored by the government makes it very different from the racing in Europe.

"In Europe it is a private enterprise. Each truck belongs to a different team. The team is responsible for the funding, mechanics and engineering. We not only own the truck, we develop the engine and the crew," he said.

The vehicles in China Super Truck Racing are provided by the organizing committee and racers only have to pay registration fees to take part in the competition.

Li Shangxiong, deputy chairman of the organizing committee of China Truck Racing, said the fact the tournament is endorsed by truck manufacturers has enabled it to stick to its grassroots connections.

"The low threshold has enabled the racers to grow with the tournament and enables them to live up to their potential as racers," he said.

The tournament will introduce European circuit racing to China next year, and Kalivoda said the government support will help Chinese racing eventually catch up with the competition level in Europe and North America.

"We have more than 20 years of experience so the gap will be visible for some time," he said. "You cannot wipe it out in two years."



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