The British Truck Racing Championship delivered thrills, spills and a whole host of edge-of-the-seat moments at Thruxton this past weekend (July 8/9) as the UK’s biggest motor racing series headlined Convoy on the Plain.
Returning to full-throttle action after a near two-month hiatus, the heavyweight behemoths took centre stage around the fastest circuit in the UK for the third meeting of what is shaping up to be another captivating season.
Division 1 spoils were split between Ryan Smith, Stuart Oliver and John Bowler whilst Paul Rivett and John Powell claimed pair of wins apiece in Division 2. However, those triumphs were somewhat overshadowed by a scary incident in the weekend’s fourth contest.
Approaching mid-distance of the penultimate bout at the Hampshire venue, series newcomer Neil Yates suffered a throttle pedal jam which resulted in his DAF hitting the armco barrier on the exit of Allard and rolling over the catch fence.
Thankfully, nobody was injured in the incident however the lengthy recovery and clean up operation resulted in the BTRC’s fifth and final race being cancelled.
Smith, Oliver and Bowler triumph
Attractions such as show trucks, real life transformers and live music may have entertained the bumper crowd that had flocked through the gates off-track, but it was the titans of truck racing that raised pulses on it – in particular Division 1.
As has been the case throughout the 2023 campaign so far, Saturday arguably belonged to reigning seven-time champion Ryan Smith as he blasted his way to pole position and two commanding wins.
Less than one second covered the top four in qualifying although it was the Daimler Freightliner driver that mastered the slippery conditions the best to claim top spot ahead of Bradley Smith and David Jenkins.
From there, the multiple title winner was in a league of his own as he produced two carbon-copy performances to break clear of the chasing pack and comfortably claim his seventh and eighth victories of the season.
Behind, Bradley Smith and Jenkins entertained the masses as they completed the podium in race one before Stuart Oliver and Jenkins did the same in a pulsating second bout.
Brighter conditions greeted the field on Sunday and it was ten-time champion Oliver that reigned supreme in race three. Starting from fourth, the Volvo VNL wasted no time in jumping up to second on the opening lap and then began his pursuit of pole sitter Steven Powell.
Despite showing his intent on a number of occasions, Oliver struggled to break Powell’s resolute defence. That was until he was able to draw alongside on the run up Woodham Hill in the closing laps and complete the move for the lead the Club Chicane.
Once out front, Oliver cruised to the chequered flag ahead of Powell whilst Ryan Smith charged up the order – fighting his way through an almighty scrap for fourth which included Jenkins, Craig Reid and Bradley Smith – to finish third.
The weekend’s fourth, and ultimately final, shortened race would see a new winner crowned as John Bowler claimed a maiden Division 1 victory. Starting from pole position, the MAN TGX racer controlled the early running before Michael Oliver finally found a way past on lap four on the run into Allard.
However, due to the red flag being waved for Yates’ crash soon after, the result was counted back to the previous full lap that was completed which placed Bowler in first, Oliver in second and Bradley Smith in third.
Rivett and Powell at the double
The battle for supremacy in Division 2 further intensified at Thruxton as Paul Rivett and John Powell strengthened their respective championship challenges by scoring two wins apiece over the course of the weekend.
Hot on the heels of scoring a brace of wins at Pembrey last time out, NAPA Racing UK’s Rivett arrived at the home of the British Automobile Racing Club as the form man and he quickly established himself as one to watch as he snared pole position in qualifying.
The former Renault UK Clio Cup champion produced a measured performance in race one to triumph ahead of Powell and Adam Bint. The MAN TGX driver looked to have repeated the feat in race two before he was later disqualified for over-speeding, subsequently handing Powell victory.
Rivett bounced back from his disqualification in style in the weekend’s third contest though as he chalked up yet another victory before Powell equalled the score by triumphing in race four, which ended prematurely after Yates vaulted the armco barrier.
Behind the trio of Rivett, Powell and Bint, Craig Evans took on a starring role to scoop a hat-trick of podium finishes whilst Jim Bennett enjoyed one of his strongest showings of the season to-date.
To view the full classification of results from all British Truck Racing Championship sessions at Thruxton, CLICK HERE.
All four races from the 2023 annual visit to Thruxton will be available to view on the British Truck Racing Championship YouTube channel HERE.
The British Truck Racing Championship is next in action on August 12/13 when the series travels to Donington Park for the popular Convoy in the Park event.