BTRC delivers blockbuster thrills and spills at Pembrey
The British Truck Racing Championship is poised for a sensational showdown after an action-packed penultimate event of the season at Pembrey this past weekend (October 8/9) ensured that the battle for both the Division 1 and Division 2 titles will go down to the wire.
Ryan Smith remains on course for outright honours in Division 1 at Brands Hatch on November 5/6 however the trio of David Jenkins, Stuart Oliver and John Newell all remain in mathematical contention for the coveted crown.
Division 2 is set for a grandstand finish with Luke Garrett and Brad Smith heading into the season finale separated by just three points, whilst John Powell and Jock Borthwick also sit within striking distance of the standings summit.
On what proved to be a blockbuster return to South Wales, the titans of truck racing served up plenty of edge-of-the-seat entertainment; with the bumper crowd that flocked trackside seeing their fair share of thrills and spills.
Across five blockbuster races around the picturesque Welsh venue, four drivers triumphed in Division 1 whilst the spoils of Division 2 were shared between five.
Smith, Oliver, Reid and Newell share Division 1 wins
After a frustrating outing at Snetterton, Ryan Smith was back on form at Pembrey as he strengthened his grip on what could be a remarkable seventh Division 1 title in a row.
Once again behind the wheel of his MAN, the Mansfield-based driver produced a superlative lap in qualifying to clinch pole position, which in-turn set him up for what would turn out to be a commanding victory in race one.
Despite there being a red flag at the start due to a multi-truck incident at the first corner, Smith didn’t put a wheel wrong when proceedings reconvened, pulling clear of Newell and Jenkins to triumph by more than five seconds.
Race two proved to be a tamer affair as ten-time champion Oliver - who was one of the drivers that got caught up in the aforementioned race one incident - bounced back in style with a commanding lights-to-flag victory ahead of Newell and Jenkins.
The weekend’s third encounter on Sunday took two attempts to run due to a number of incidents but when it did get going it saw Newell chalk up his first win of the season.
In what was undoubtedly proving to be his strongest showing of the year, the former Division 2 title winner used all of his experience and expertise behind the wheel to hold back reigning champion Smith. There were further celebrations on the podium too as Tom O’Rourke collected his first piece of the silverware in 2022.
Simon Reid got back to winning ways in the fourth bout of the weekend after edging out Smith on the run to the chequered flag. Serving up a masterclass in defensive driving, the Iveco racer fended off the advances of the reigning champion for a majority of the contest, with Richard Collett rounding out the podium in third.
Not content with one victory, Newell brought the curtain down on proceeding’s with a second win in the finale. Championship leader Smith had looked on course to triumph before he unexpectedly skated off the track at the final corner, ending his race on the spot.
The red flag was waved to recover Smith’s stricken machine and when things restarted, Newell came to the fore with a masterful drive to fend off the charging Steven Powell and Jenkins.
High five for Division 2
Drama wasn’t far away in Division 2 over the course of the weekend, with a number of twists and turns shaking up proceedings in the championship battle.
Qualifying saw series leader Garrett punch in a superlative lap to clinch pole position however a clutch failure at the end of the session would ultimately see him unable to compete in the opening contest.
With Garrett watching on from the sidelines, the MAN of Borthwick came to the fore as he came out on top of a captivating three-way battle for victory, edging out Adam Bint and John Powell.
Race two then saw Powell make his mark as he produced a clinical performance to score victory. Hitting the front in the opening exchanges, the DAF racer soon pulled clear of chasing pack, which was led by the tussling pair of Borthwick and Bint.
After tallying a podium double on Saturday, Bint made a triumphant return to the top step of the podium as he emerged victorious in race three. In what was a thrilling back-and-forth fight for class honours, the Volvo racer narrowly pipped Garrett to chequered flag whilst Smith was third.
Smith - like many drivers over the course of the weekend - was in the wars at times but he too tasted victory in race four, heading Craig Evans and Bint.
Having endured a rough ride of things, championship leader Garrett was able to sign off his weekend in Wales on a high with victory in race five. The two-time champion was able to control proceedings for the most part to lead home the DAF duo of Powell and Smith.
To view the full classification of results from all British Truck Racing Championship sessions at Pembrey, CLICK HERE.
All fives races from the penultimate event of the season are available to view on the British Automobile Racing Club YouTube channel HERE.
The British Truck Racing Championship will bring the curtain down on its 2022 season at Brands Hatch on November 5/6.