The British Truck Racing Championship blasted into action at Brands Hatch this past weekend (April 16/17) with no less than seven drivers tasting success across Division 1 and Division 2.
Lifting the curtain on the 2022 season in bright sunshine at the Kent venue with a packed crowd in attendance, the heavyweight behemoths served up a sensational five-race Easter extravaganza of wheel-to-wheel thrills and spills around the 1.2-mile Indy circuit.
Division 1 saw David Jenkins kickstart his campaign in style with an impressive brace of wins whilst reigning champion Ryan Smith, Stuart Oliver and Simon Reid also visited the top step of the podium.
In Division 2, DAF driver John Powell made his mark on the early championship battle with a hat-trick of class wins. Former title holder Luke Garrett and the ultra-consistent Brad Smith also starred over the course of the weekend, clinching a win apiece.
Spoils shared between four in Division 1
Qualifying on Saturday saw six-time champion Ryan Smith pick up from where he left off from last year as he set a blistering pace to clinch pole position. In his new Daimler Truck, Smith lit up the timesheets in the closing stages of the session to edge out John Newell and Simon Reid.
Race one would see Smith convert his front row start into a commanding lights-to-flag victory. Holding off the chasing pack through the opening sequence of corners, the Mansfield racer soon got his head down and stretched his advantage out front; ultimately going on to take the chequered flag by almost ten seconds.
Behind, the battle for second place had everyone captivated as Newell fought off the advances of several drivers. Unfortunately, the MAN TGS driver finally succumbed to the race-long pressure applied by Stuart Oliver to finish third, with Mark Taylor and Jenkins hot on heels to round out the top five.
Smith had looked on course to complete a clean sweep on Saturday before drama on the last lap of race two thwarted him. Managing the gap at the front to Jenkins, the current title holder became unstuck at Clark Curve when attempting to lap the Division 2 MAN of John Bowler, making contact with him and running into the gravel.
That opened the door for Jenkins to swoop in and chalk up his first win of the season whilst Smith was able to recover and cross the line in second. Further back, Newell produced another measured to drive to claim third ahead of Reid and Steven Powell.
Jenkins continued his winning form on Sunday morning as he powered his way to the top step of the podium in race three. Hitting the front at the end of the first lap, Jenkins was never headed from there and led home a charging Ryan Smith and Bradley Smith, the latter claiming a first podium of the season.
Whilst it was plain sailing for the top three, a number of drivers further back found themselves in strife including Stuart Oliver who was sideswiped by Newell and then Taylor, who had a spin at Druids.
Oliver bounced back from his race three travails to win what was a shortened fourth contest due to a pair of red flag stoppages. An incident between Powell and Taylor at Paddock Hill Bend brought out the first red flag before Michael Oliver caused the second at Druids.
Starting on the outside of the front row, the senior of the two Oliver’s got the jump into the first turn and once out front he didn’t put a wheel wrong to become the third different winner from fours races. Fresh off of a maiden podium, Bradley Smith went one better to finish second whilst Ryan Smith kept his points tally ticking over with a charge to third.
The fifth and final race of the weekend saw Simon Reid steer his Iveco Stralis to victory, despite coming under race-long pressure from Ryan Smith. Moving into the lead early on, Reid kept his cool to control proceedings and keep Smith – who was waiting to pounce – behind. After enduring a rollercoaster maiden weekend in the premier class, local man Steven Powell signed off the weekend on a high by claiming third place after running a somewhat lonely race.
Powell scores Division 2 hat-trick
The seven-truck entry for Division 2 served up plenty of entertainment over the course of the weekend, starting on Saturday morning as Jock Borthwick and John Powell traded fastest times in what was an ultra-competitive qualifying session.
Borthwick would snare pole position on his final lap and had looked on course to claim victory in the opener before it all unravelled at Druids. Locking up and subsequently spinning, the Scotsman saw his hard work undone as he dropped to third, with Powell benefitting to clinch victory ahead of Brad Smith.
Powell made it two wins from two races in the second bout however this time things were somewhat easier. Hitting the front of Division 2 early on, the DAF LF driver pulled clear of the chasing pack, led by returning double champion Luke Garrett and Borthwick, to win by more than seven seconds.
Garrett showed plenty of championship pedigree in race three on Sunday morning as scored his first win of the year. Finding a way past early leader Bowler, the striking orange MAN controlled the pace out front to lead home Smith and Borthwick, who added to their podium tallies.
Smith became the third driver to stand on the top step of the rostrum come race four as he piloted his DAF CF to the chequered flag. Starting from pole, the series veteran wasted no time in opening up his advantage over the chasing pack, which was led by Powell and Borthwick – who made it five podiums on the bounce.
In the fifth and final bout, Powell ended the weekend in the same way as which he started it, with victory. Shadowing Bowler during the opening exchanges, a mistake at Paddock Hill Bend allowed Powell into the lead and from there he was able to run his own race whilst Garrett and Borthwick followed – the latter making it a clean sweep of podium finishes.
To view the full classification of results from all British Truck Racing Championship sessions at Brands Hatch, CLICK HERE.
All five races from the 2022 season-opener are now available to view on the British Automobile Racing Club YouTube channel HERE.
The British Truck Racing Championship is next in action on May 7/8 when the series travels to Pembrey Circuit for the inaugural Convoy Cymru event.