BTRC makes history at Brands Hatch opener

The opening rounds of the 2024 British Truck Racing Championship at Brands Hatch this past weekend (March 31-April 1) brought with it two small pieces of history that were made.

On what proved to be an action-packed start to the new campaign at the Kent track, the UK’s heavyweight series broke new ground as it introduced both a Virtual Safety Car system and an all-new electric Pace Truck.

In an effort to bring down the amount of red flag stoppages, this year has seen organisers debut a Virtual Safety Car – similar to what is currently implemented in Formula 1 – to enable the action to continue while vehicles are either being recovered or returning to the track.

The Virtual Safety Car came into effect on Easter Sunday when Tom O’Rourke found his International Navistar stricken in the Paddock Hill end gravel trap.

As the Scotsman found his way back onto the circuit, the rest of the field slowed to a safe speed and lapped the track until they were given the green light to resume racing. At the end of the race, an additional three minutes were added to the race distance in lieu of the VSC.

“It worked really well,” said former champion David Jenkins on the VSC’s debut. “If I’m honest I was one of the drivers that wasn’t sure it was going to work but the proof is there for all to see.

“We managed to keep the trucks on-track at a steady pace while Tom found his way out of the gravel trap and then when it was safe to do so we returned to racing speeds. It’s going to be something that will be a real positive throughout this year I think.”

Easter Monday saw another milestone moment for the championship as Lenham Storage Co Ltd provided the first fully-electric Pace Truck to be used by the category. 

The British Truck Racing Championship continues its 2024 campaign with Convoy Cymru at Pembrey Circuit on May 18-19.

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