Wulf Gaertner Autoparts AG has been supporting the team of Spanish truck racer, Antonio Albacete, since the beginning of the season in May 2014 with its brake discs and pads for commercial vehicles. He was racing go-karts at the age of 14 and two years later he turned to cars. After a successful career, Albacete changed to truck racing in 1997. He has been champion three times, runner-up five times and twice team champion in the FIA Truck Racing European Championship with his CEPSA-MAN team.
This season too, equipped with MEYLE brakes, Albacete is doing well in his bid to win the championship again. In the interview below, Albacete and Sven Nielsen, Technology Manager at Wulf Gaertner Autoparts, talk about their collaboration and explain the special demands made on the brakes used in the truck.
Mr. Albacete, what do you like about truck racing?
Albacete: It’s the combination of sporting performance, teamwork and technical expertise which fascinates me. Together with the team and the manufacturers, we are always finding new ways to perfect the racing truck.
Why did you decide to use MEYLE brakes for your truck?
Albacete: We regularly test new parts for the most critical areas of the truck. For this season we tested three different brake suppliers, and the MEYLE brake discs and pads emerged as the winner from these tests.
What stresses do MEYLE brake discs and pads have to stand up to during a truck race?
Nielsen: The trucks brake very severely especially before the bends: from around 160 to only 40 to 50 kph. In the process the brakes can reach extreme temperatures very quickly. That’s why it’s essential to cool the brake discs with water. The components have to be able to withstand large temperature differences without changing shape or their surface composition. This is the only way for the brake disc to keep the same characteristics, allowing the driver to brake safely and efficiently without losing valuable time.
Albacete: One of the major challenges for the brakes consists in the permanent strain on the parts: On average the trucks have to provide continual braking power of 500 kilowatts twice a day for around 25 minutes. Taking into consideration the number of axles, that would be the same as a 36 ton truck driving down an incline with 33 percent gradient for 25 minutes with no supporting braking devices.
What are the outstanding qualities of MEYLE’s brake discs and pads for commercial vehicles?
Albacete: MEYLE’s discs conduct the heat away very effectively, which means it takes longer until cracks appear. The braking power of the disc remains constant throughout its lifetime. We are convinced that – should the water cooling ever fail – the lower quantity and lesser size of cracks would prevent any abrupt failure of the brakes. And not least, the optimised internal ventilation enables the need for cooling water to be reduced. This reduces the risk of failure if there is a cooling water malfunction.
What has been your experience so far with MEYLE brake discs and pads?
Albacete: So far we have used ten sets and we were very happy with the performance.That’s why we’re confident we can finish the 2014 season with the title.
What do you appreciate about the collaboration?
Nielsen: It allows us to demonstrate that our MEYLE parts give optimum performance even in the most extreme conditions. It also gives us the chance to subject the brake discs and pads for commercial vehicles to the ultimate test, and so to perfect them still further. For this we maintain close contact with the race team and we receive constant feedback. All of us at Wulf Gaertner Autoparts are rooting for Antonio and his team.
Albacete: We can communicate directly with our contacts at Wulf Gaertner Autoparts in an unbureaucratic manner, that is something we really appreciate. We always get fast and really professional help. This season the collaboration is focused initially on technical support for the braking system. But we could very well imagine expanding our collaboration in the future.