FOUR TAKE VICTORIES AS SMITH TAKES THE LEAD AT PEMBREY
A quartet of drivers took victories as defending champion Ryan Smith established an eight-point advantage at the top of the British Truck Racing Championship on an action-packed weekend at Pembrey.
Smith narrowly edged out Stuart Oliver, the points leader heading into the weekend in South Wales, to claim pole position before edging clear amid drama behind to take the honours in the first race. Dave Jenkins and Mat Summerfield made contact further back as Jenkins, having muscled his way past Oliver into second, suffered a broken halfshaft and, with Summerfield on the outside line heading into Dibeni, the two man contact. Summerfield continued with his damage to fourth, but despite Jenkins' best efforts to reach the chequered flag he was classified as a retirement.
Luke Taylor thought he had taken his first victory of the season, and the first in his new MAN challenger, but officials ruled after the second race he had jumped the start and was hit with a ten-second penalty, handing Oly Janes a popular win in the Buggyra after his Brands Hatch heart-ache. Ray Coleman had taken third, but was also penalised five seconds for exceeding track limits, ensuring Summerfield and the recovering Jenkins would complete the podium.
The classes were brought together in a more traditional format on Sunday, with Michael Oliver's retirement from the meeting with a burnt piston on his Scania permitting Pembrey to run the remaining twenty entries across both classes as permitted by its license.
The theme of penalties continued, however. Ryan Smith was declared the winner of race three after Stuart Oliver was excluded after stewards ruled his driving was unsafe. Shane Brereton doubled his podium tally in second, whilst Jenkins' recovery continued in third ahead of a strong result for T Sport Racing's Terry Gibbon.
Gibbon then scored the 'feel-good' result of the weekend, fending off late pressure from Mat Summerfield to win the fourth contest – both his first victory in the new-for-2017 MAN TGS, and his first victory since the 2006 Class B champion returned to the series. Gibbon had started on the front row with Luke Taylor once more, but contact at Hatchets Hairpin left the #79 Rooster Racing truck stranded in the gravel trap, bringing out a brief red flag stoppage. Gibbon remained calm during the stoppage and cooly delivered an emotional result for his team, who finished construction of the MAN in the days prior to Brands Hatch.
The final podium of the weekend had a more familiar feel as Dave Jenkins closed out a tough weekend with some silverware, claiming his first win of the campaign to edge himself closer to the championship fight. Oliver took the second place and Summerfield third.
The net result of all races at Pembrey sees Smith take a eight-point advantage to Thruxton next month, with the top five now separated by just fourteen points.
It proved to be a contrasting weekend for Mika Mäkinen in Division Two, with the Brands Hatch superstar failing to register a point in either of the first two races in South Wales after a fuel injector issue struck the engine of his Sisu SL250. Whilst two podiums on Sunday ensures he maintains the advantage in the standings over Simon Cole's Mercedes, his lead has now been cut to a slender four points.
Tony Smith's Sisu SL250 picked up the baton and delivered a race victory, with Luke Garrett and a brace of triumphs for Cole rounding out the winners.