Unmissable edge-of-the-seat entertainment was the theme of the British Truck Racing Championship’s annual visit to Snetterton this past weekend (September 17/18) as the fight for title glory intensified.
Entering the home stretch of the campaign, the battle for supremacy across five blockbuster races at the Norfolk venue saw three drivers triumph in Division 1 whilst the spoils of Division 2 were shared between four.
Racing was just one part of the weekend however as competitors, officials and spectators came together to pay homage to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on September 8.
Two minute silences were impeccably observed across both Saturday and Sunday whilst the grid also paid their respects to the Queen with tributes adorning their 1000bhp machines.
Oliver scores hat-trick whilst Collett and Smith also triumph
Division 1 saw its most significant shake-up of the season take place over the course of the weekend as Stuart Oliver scored a sensational hat-trick of wins. There were also victories for Richard Collett and Ryan Smith – the latter making the best of what proved to be a challenging outing.
Saturday would see the day belong to one man; former ten-time champion Oliver. Looking to bounce back from a heavy crash at Donington Park which left his team needing to carry out a hefty repair job on his Volvo VNL, the series veteran was perfection personified.
Charging to pole position in qualifying, Oliver then controlled proceedings in a frenetic opening race. Constantly hounded by the MAN of David Jenkins, the multiple title winner didn’t put a wheel wrong to clinch a hard-fought win whilst Jenkins and John Newell completed the podium.
Race two proved to be a somewhat easier drive for Oliver as he notched a second successive lights-to-flag triumph. Pulling clear as soon as the race began, he ran untroubled out front whilst Simon Reid – who had made a lightening start from fourth – squabbled for second with Newell, who went on to settle for third.
Sunday saw the heavyweight behemoths start with a bang as Collett scored what was a popular first win of the season. Following a red flag stoppage due to an accident at Agostini, the MAN driver soaked up race-long pressure from Michael Oliver to claim the spoils; whilst Craig Reid brought his Iveco Stralis home in third.
Having had to build a brand new truck in less than a week, the weekend had proven to be difficult for reigning six-time champion and current points leader Smith however he put that all behind him with a superlative performance in race four.
Starting from pole position, the Mercedes driver fended off an early challenge from the younger of the two Oliver’s and then pulled clear to score a much-needed win. Behind, Craig Reid secured a season-best finish of second with Jenkins completing the podium.
The weekend came to a somewhat premature end however as two red flag stoppages – the second of which was due to a mechanical failure for Smith – scuppered any real chance of action in race five. Of the racing that did take place, Oliver Snr was able to break free of the fight behind him to clinch his third win of the weekend. Newell and Jenkins – as had been the case for large parts of the event – ran line astern to round out the rostrum.
Four of the best in Division 2
There were plenty of twists and turns in Division 2 as Luke Garrett, Brad Smith, John Bowler and Jock Borthwick each visited the top step of the podium.
Smith kicked proceedings off with a superlative lap in qualifying to score pole position however he could do nothing to prevent Garrett from claiming the spoils in race one.
Making a sensational start, the former two-time champion muscled his way into the lead on the opening lap and from there he kept Smith and John Powell at bay for the remainder of the 15-minute contest.
The DAF CF of Smith couldn’t be stopped in a pulsating second race however as he converted pole position into a commanding victory. Leading every lap, Smith maintained a manageable distance to Powell in second whilst Borthwick capped off a fine drive to clinch third.
Thrills and spills was the general theme for the weekend’s third race which saw Bowler chalk up his first victory of the year. In a shortened bout that saw the lead change on multiple occasions, Bowler managed to hang on in the final stages and fend off Smith and Adam Bint to triumph.
Race four saw Borthwick make it four different winners from four races. Making a punchy move on Garrett through the infield section early on, the Scotsman then didn’t look back as he remained out front whilst Garrett and Smith crossed the line in second and third.
Garrett ended the weekend in the same way he started it, with a superlative victory. In a race which was truncated by two red flag stoppages, the MAN driver edged out Smith and Bint to strengthen his lead at the top of the standings with two events left to run.
To view the full classification of results from all British Truck Racing Championship sessions at Snetterton, CLICK HERE.
All five races from the fifth event of the season are available to view on the British Automobile Racing Club YouTube channel HERE.
The British Truck Racing Championship is next in action on October 8/9 when the series returns to the home of Welsh motorsport, Pembrey Circuit.