ETRO Truck Racing Championship (ETRC), the predecessor of the FIA European Truck Racing Championship, was started in 1985, sanctioned by ETRO, European Truck Racing Organization. Since 1989 the Championship was organized by ETRA (European Truck Racing Association) under the control of FISA (International Federation of Automobile Sport). From 1994 it was rebranded as FIA European Truck Racing Cup, and in 2006 the competition received its current status – FIA European Truck Racing Championship. In 1985 – 1993 seasons the Championship was held for three classes of racing trucks, depending of the engine power or volume. Until 1988 categories were defined according to engine power, and in 1988 – 1993 according to engine size. Class A was restricted to 11950 ccm, Class B was for trucks with engines from 11951 to 14100 ccm, and Class C vehicles had engine capacity from 14100 to 18500 ccm. There were also restrictions of minimal weight of the truck – 5000, 5500 and 6000 kg for classes A, B, and C respectively. The maximal speed for all classes was restricted to 160 km/h. In the first decade of its history, the European truck racing was essentially a semi-amateur competition. Most participants were professional truck drivers, while few professional racing drivers, including people with F1, rally or touring cars background, were rather an exception. Most truck also were production models only slightly modified for racing.
One of the interesting features or the ETRC races in the end of 1980s – beginning of the 1990s is the participation of many trucks and drivers from Eastern Europe – exotic makes like Czech LIAZ and Tatra, Hungarian Raba, Polish Star and Jelcz, Yugoslavian FAP, as well as MAZ, ZIL and KAMAZ from Soviet Union brought new colors to the peloton. The debut of Soviet trucks and drivers in the European truck racing occurred in May 1987 at Hungaroring circuit. Hungarian national trucking company Hungarocamion invited the team of their partners from the USSR – Sovtransavto, the major state company, engaged in international cargo transportation from the Soviet Union. Sovtransavto partnered Minsk Automobile Plant, MAZ, one of the major truck producers in the USSR, to get three serial MAZ 5432 trucks, and invited Mikhail Lvov and Yuri Chernikov as drivers. Substitutes were Muscovite Valery Kopikov and Leningrader Sergei Smurtsov, and the team was headed by the chairman of the central council of the Sovtransavto, master of sports of the USSR Valentin Moiseev. The MAZ 5432 was a conventional long-distance truck featured a cabin with sleeping compartment and powered by 280 hp Yaroslavl Motor Plant (YaMZ) 328 engine. Modification of the trucks for the completions was minimal. A powerful safety cage welded from steel pipes appeared inside the cab and behind it. Protection for the gas tank and an underrun bumper were also added.
Two these cars started in Class A (smallest engines) in the 1987 Hungarocamion Truck Trophy, a round of the European Truck Racing Cup. All three Sovtransavto MAZ trucks came to Hungary as on their regular duty, carrying cargo trailers, and the third truck was busy with normal work, delivering goods. Chernikov finished 13th, and Lvov 14th among 30 Class A participants. Both drivers were experienced and well known USSR racing drivers. Yuri Chernikov from Moscow had scored a series of wins in USSR touring cars and rallies in 1970s- 1980s. Mikhail Lvov from Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) worked as truck driver and test engineer, and raced in various USSR Formulas championships. He won USSR Formula 2 championship in 1977, and was multiple Silver and Bronze winner in Soviet Formula 1, 2, 3 and 4 in 1970 – 1982.
After debut at Hungary, Sovtransavto team was invited to fourth round of the 1987 ETRC, Truck Super Prix at Mantorp Park, Sweden. Three MAZ cars were entered – one was the serial truck as raced in Hungaroring with the same cabin, chassis and engine, and two other were of significantly modified version now designated MAZ 5432S (sport). In the S version trucks got updated YaMZ engine developing now 460 hp, new lighter chassis, and lightened cabin without slipping compartment. Serial MAZ 5432 #81 was driven by Valentin Moiseev, former touring car driver and Sovtransavto CEO. He finished 15th and last in Class B (trucks up to 360 hp) in his underpowered truck. Two 5432S vehicles driven by Lvov and Chernikov raced in most powerful Class C (500 hp) and were 14th and 15th.
For the next season, 1988, Sovtransavto MAZ trucks were updated to more powerful YaMZ engine capable of 700 hp. The trucks now painted gray raced in some rounds of the 1988 and 1989 ETRC. Mikhail Lvov and Yuri Chernikov usually finished in the middle of the peloton of Class C trucks. Sovtransavto team folded after the 1989 season, but the works MAZ factory team, MAZ-TRT (MAZ Truck Racing Team), was created in 1988 and raced in ETRC until 1992.
The scale model of 1987-88 MAZ 5432S was made by Alexander Vovk, former MAZ engineer and designer, at his By.Volk studio.
|Mikhail Lvov / Yuri Chernikov||Sovtransavto|