BTRC HEADS TO THRUXTON WITH SMITH AT THE FRONT
The British Truck Racing Championship makes its return this weekend [03-04 June] as the series heads to Thruxton with defending champion Ryan Smith at the top of the Division One standings.
Smith, fresh from his excursions in the European Truck Racing Championship at the Red Bull Ring (Austria), sits only 8 points ahead of the ultra-consistent Shane Brereton after claiming a brace of victories and a further podium last time out at Pembrey.
Four-time series champion Mat Summerfield comes next despite a non-score at the Home of Welsh Motorsport, a hat-trick of podiums complimenting the early-season form of the MAN machines as they lock out the top three.
Stuart Oliver arrived at Pembrey as the championship leader and left 12 markers behind after a frustrating set of races, but the ten-time champion arrives in Hampshire with renewed confidence as his new-for-2017, American bonnet-styled Volvo VN13 continues to lead the non-MAN charge for honours.
BTRA Chairman and previous champion David Jenkins comes next in the points standings after closing out a frustrating Pembrey weekend with a victory, ahead of Ray Coleman and Luke Taylor.
Terry Gibbon scored a popular victory in South Wales with in his new-for-2017 MAN, rewarding the T-Sport Racing crew for their hard work over the winter before he too joined Smith in tackling some of Europe's finest.
'Bad luck' may as well have been Oly Janes' middle names so far this season, but make no mistake – the Buggyra will be a force to be reckoned with on the 2.3 mile circuit as he seeks to recover ground lost after misfortune at the opening two meetings.
Damage prevented Michael Oliver from building on his season opener, with a stricken Scania ensuring he would score no points from the five races in South Wales. Oliver – only in his second ever season of competitive racing – is one to keep an eye on this weekend as he seeks to make amends.
After the season opener at Brands Hatch, many were already saying with confidence that Mika Mäkinen was the man to beat for Division Two honours – and with good reason. On that occasion the Finn had secured all but one victory across the weekend – and even then, he was second.
However, the story after Pembrey makes for slightly different reading. Simon Cole proved to be the dominant force with four podiums – including two victories – to steer his Mercedes into the championship fight.
He now sits a mere four points adrift of Mäkinen, who only had two second-places to show for his efforts at Pembrey.
If ever the highly-competitive nature of Divison Two were called into doubt, the chasing pack behind provide a perfect response.
Paul McCumisky, John Bowler, reigning class champion Adam Bint, Tony Smith, John Powell and Trevor Martin are all separated by just twenty points, and with four contests at Thruxton this weekend any one of the quintet stand a reasonable chance of hauling themselves further into the title fight.
Luke Garrett's MAN took it's first win of the season at Pembrey, and he will be hoping to break into the fight with the chasing pack after non-scores hampered his progress at both of the first two events.
Brad Smith, Jim Bennett and Andrew Lovenbury round out the foot of the standings heading into the weekend's action.
With four action-packed races for each class set to entertain the Thruxton crowd, the next exciting chapter in the story of this years championship battle is not one to be missed.