April 23rd/24th the British Truck Racing Championship second round took place at the home of Welsh Motorsport at Pembrey, Nr Llanelli, South Wales. After a number of wet days leading up to the weekend, the teams awoke on Saturday morning to clear blue skies and a fast drying track.
The weekend at Pembrey was set to be an action packed one, the organisers due to truck entry numbers ran the proven five race Class A and B together formula, making the truck grid full to capacity. Along with the potential for some action packed support car races to entertain the crowds in-between the five truck races.
As well as the on track action the crowds were to be entertained by a five plane aerobatics display, for good measure the outer paddock was lined with a fine display of high quality show trucks that had entered the prestigious Truck Sport UK show truck competition.
Saturday morning’s truck qualifying session was the first opportunity for many drivers to test their machines and at the same time record a fast lap to set the grid for the first of the five truck races. With a dry track and nineteen trucks out on the 1.45mile long circuit it was going to be, and it was very intense.
Straight out of the pits on his first flying lap Class A driver Stuart Oliver in his VOLVO RH13 posted the fastest lap, on the following lap Ryan Smith in his MAN TGX topped the table only just by 0.137 of a second with a lap time of 1:11.847. The remaining positions ended with Dave Jenkins securing third place in his MAN 0.099 of a second behind Stuart Oliver, followed by Mat Summerfield, Luke Taylor, Shane Brereton, Oly Janes, Steve Thomas, Steve Powell, Luke Garrett and Michael Oliver respectively all within less than 5 seconds.
In Class B things were also very close with the holder of the fastest lap changing place a number of times within the twenty minuet session, finally settling down to Simon Cole in his MERCEDES on lap nine recording a lap time that would give him Class B pole position with an impressive lap time of 1:17.285 followed by a time 1.550 seconds slower for second was Brian Burt in his VOLVO-WHITE with John Powell in his FORD CARGO another 0.319 seconds slower in third, followed by Paul McCumisky, John Bowler, Trevor Martin, Andrew Lovenbury and Adam Bint respectively also as in class A all times were within less than 5 seconds.
The first truck race of the weekend started as per the 2016 BTRC regulations with the fastest in qualifying, Ryan Smith at the front. After the pace truck lead the trucks round for the rolling start all was set for a thriller, with Ryan Smith and Stuart Oliver on the front row the lights went out Ryan was off to a flying start unfortunately Stuart’s gearbox gave up and he lost high range drive leaving him momentarily stranded in the middle of the track, with seventeen charging trucks coming from behind, fortunately no contact was made and everybody continued on the track. Turn one normally brings plenty of action and as expected it did, once all had settled down within the race places started to change at a high rate, during some mid-race rubbing action a number of Class B trucks had suffered damage that would find them out of the race, Mat Summerfield in Class A also suffered a gearbox fault, this taking him out of the race unlike Stuart Oliver who was still going around with no high gear but managing to still put up a good fight.
In the closing stages of the race the race officials were due to marshal reports issuing driving standards warning flags to a number of drivers. Dave Jenkins finished first in Class A, followed by Ryan Smith, Steve Thomas and Luke Taylor. Following a post-race decision by the officials, Dave Jenkins was exclude from the result for overtaking under yellow flags, with Ryan Smith also receiving a 5 second penalty for exciding track limits, fortunately Ryan was far enough ahead to hang on to his race win result with Steve Thomas in his MAN TGX taking second and Luke Taylor in his RENAULT PREMIUM third.
Class B finished unfortunately with three none finishers due to heavy contact, resulting in Simon Cole taking the class win followed by John Powell in his FORD CARGO and Adam Bint in his VOLVO AERODYNE taking the last podium place in third.
Truck Race 2: As per the regulations all the trucks for the remaining four races lined up in reverse order of the previous race finishing order within each class, with Class A truck in front, with any none finishers to start on the back of the respective grids.
As the pace truck pulled off the trucks trundled around onto the start straight when the lights went out Stuart and Michael Oliver were off from the front row avoiding each other on the first corner gave them both a good start, as in most BTRC races the charging pack were close behind. Stuart pulled out a reasonable lead, Michael held his line to make it no easy task to overtake, by mid race Ryan Smith, Dave Jenkins, Oly Janes, Shane Brereton and Steve Thomas were on a charge, Stuart Oliver following his previous race gearbox problem now had no operational clutch and was having to take a different racing line to the norm, his plan was working until he caught up to back markers this caused him to loose significant time allowing Ryan Smith and Dave Jenkins to slip past in the closing stages. Ryan Smith taking the win after a 5 second penalty was rescinded Dave Jenkins taking second and Stuart Oliver hanging on to third place.
Class B was also full of action with many hard challenges from the start, Simon Cole in a hurry to repeat his first race victory, having steep competition from Adam Bint, John Powell and Brian Burt, and following a coming together on lap six Simon’s race came to an early end having to pull off track with a damaged front axle. The Class B battle continued till the chequered flag with Adam Bint taking the win, John Powell close behind in second and Brian Burt taking the final podium place.
Truck Race 3: started as the previous day under a bright blue sky and again saw plenty of high speed heavy weight truck race action. As to be expected the reverse grid start did not disappoint the large crowd at the first second and third corner, with the usual candidates in both classes challenging hard in the early to mid-stages of the race, this time on lap 9 Dave Jenkins attempted a overtake move on Luke Taylor resulting in the two plus Mat Summerfield becoming “spinning tops” at the Brooklands Hairpin leaving Dave Jenkins stranded, allowing Steve Thomas, Shane Brereton, Stuart Oliver and Ryan Smith to get passed, in the closing laps Stuart Oliver and Ryan Smith overtook Shane Brereton, with the final result a win for Steve Thomas second for Stuart Oliver and third for Ryan Smith.
Class B as per the norm presented plenty of overtaking with a splash of contact resulting in Simon Cole’s Mercedes and John Bowler’s FODEN ALPHA coming to a stop mid-race, resulting in the Class B win going to Adam Bint, second place going to Paul McCumisky and third place going to John Powell.
Truck Race 4: Again the two classes in reverse grid order, the race start action was immense. Shane Brereton had a flying start from a mid-grid start position to go around the outside at Hatchets Hairpin and take an early lead, his team mate Stuart Oliver got tangled between Steve Thomas and Mat Summerfield and found himself heading towards the inside of the hairpin at high speed on the grass narrowly avoiding a number of trucks somehow recovering to find he had a rear tyre blow out. Once things settled down all the Class A trucks were in a train of battle followed behind by the same in Class B. With two laps to go Shane Brereton had pulled out a healthy lead then it was Ryan Smith followed by Stuart Oliver, Steve Thomas, Dave Jenkins, Mat Summerfield, Oly Janes and Luke Taylor. On the start of the last lap Steve Thomas retired with a steering problem easing the pleasure off Stuart Oliver who had his hands full controlling his tyre-less truck, with the Class A result giving Shane Brereton his first ever Truck Race career win, Ryan Smith finished second and Stuart Oliver in third.
Class B provided start to finish race action with all drivers not wanting to give up any race positions without a fight, Simon Cole managed to stay out of trouble to take the Class B win followed by John Powell and to complete the podium in third John Bowler.
Truck Race 5: With the 2016 British Truck Racing Championship now well underway it was clear to see from the race performances over the weekend that all drivers in both classes are wanting to make progress in the BTRC points standings. This in mind plus the fact the BARC race officials are coming down hard on any driver not being compliant to the regulations, means the balancing act required by the drivers to race hard and fair within the track limits and make progress is resulting in a spectacle not often seen in any form of modern day motorsport. The last race of the day was a prime example of truck racing at its best with plenty of hard but clean racing throughout the pack with three groups racing hard for one ultimate goal, up front, Ryan Smith, Mat Summerfield, Shane Brereton, Stuart Oliver, Dave Jenkins, Luke Taylor and Steve Thomas all swapped places numerous times to cross the line in the above mentioned order all with no more than 13 seconds between them.
In mid-field Oly Janes in his first appearance of the year in his FREIGHTLINER, Luke Garrett who has stepped up from Class B in his newly acquired RENAULT PREMIUM, Steven Powell the 2015 Class B champion also moving up to Class A this year in his ex Ricky Collett MAN TGA and a newcomer to any form of motor racing Michael Oliver, son of Stuart in the SCANIA P1150 driven during 2015 by Sean Brereton they too also swapped places during the race many times to cross the line also in very close order.
Class B; the order was very similar to that of Class A, Simon Cole taking another win with yet another first year truck racer John Bowler taking second place followed by John Powell in third, followed by Paul McCumisky, Adam Bint and Trevor Martin, unfortunately the only none finisher of the race was Andy Lovenbury in his RENAULT PREMIUM after a coming together with two passing Class A trucks.
The teams now have a few weeks to prepare prior to the next BTRC round to be held at the high speed Thruxton circuit Nr Andover, Hampshire on June 11th 12th.