Ryan Smith continued his excellent recent form in front of a packed 115,000 crowd as the British Truck Racing Championship contested its international showcase event as part of the Mittelrhein Cup races at the Nürburgring.
With five teams making the journey direct to the Nürburgring from the South of France, following a similarly action-packed weekend when participating in the European Truck Challenge at Nogaro, a further 19 travelled over from British soil to form a capacity grid at the famous GP-Track.
The setting might be different, but qualifying produced a seen before result as Ryan Smith claimed pole position in his MAN, posting a quickest time of 1:56.277 to eclipse Oly Janes' Buggyra by 1.522 seconds. Stuart Oliver’s truck suffered transmission problems which saw his race starting from the pit lane. With the rest of the main championship contenders on the two rows behind pole position, each of the four scheduled races looked set to play a pivotal role in dictating the mid-season standings.
Ryan Smith dominated the opening contest, pulling clear of the pack to establish an insurmountable 25-second advantage, leaving Mat Summerfield, to pick up the runner up honours, whilst a topsy-turvy race for Oly Janes ended in silverware with a respectable third place.
Race two saw a return to the top step of the podium for Stuart Oliver in his VOLVO this after the mechanical gremlins had plagued his early weekend running. Confusion over the procedure during a full-course yellow situation that was adopted twice during the race, this was quickly cleared up by the race officials and any questions had no lasting impact on the result with Stuart Oliver being the race winner followed by Shane Brereton and Mat Summerfield to complete the podium.
Ryan Smith, however, would maximise pole position in the third race on the Saturday afternoon and re-establish his authority, powering to victory by a 4.296 second margin over Stuart Oliver in second. Dave Jenkins recovered well from a heavy impact in the second race to record his first podium of the weekend in finishing in third.
The fourth and final Mittelrhein race of the weekend, however, was unfortunately abandoned after an engine fuel injector return pipe split during the formation lap on Stuart Oliver's Volvo. A large amount of diesel fuel went onto the circuit in what was already torrentially-wet conditions. Though officials and circuit staff worked relentlessly for over an hour to prepare the circuit for racing, it was eventually deemed too dangerous.
The net result of the three races, however, gives Ryan Smith a 13-point advantage over Mat Summerfield, with MAN locking out the top three as Shane Brereton sits a further seven points back. with Stuart Oliver and Dave Jenkins rounding out the top five. With consistent weekends from Oly Janes and Luke Taylor this has enabled them both to leapfrog in the standings above an unfortunate Terry Gibbon.
In Division Two, Mika Mäkinen re-asserted himself at the summit of the class standings, claiming two race victories and a further second place in his Sisu SL250. Frans Smit's Scania shared the victory circle with the Finn, but with Adam Bint's Volvo failing to keep pace a 25-point margin has now been established at the top. Steven Powell enjoyed a notably strong weekend, taking a brace of second places behind the wheel of Team Power's ERF as the two-time class champion seeks to reclaim the honours.
The championship heads next to the highly-anticipated 'Convoy in the Park' event at Donington Park, with an estimated minimum of 25,000 eager spectators expected to converge on the Midlands circuit for a weekend of racing and off-circuit entertainment, along with a packed support bill of races from BARC championships.
The series might have shifted to continental Europe, but Ryan Smith remains the MAN to beat as the championship heads back home.