The British Truck Racing Championship served up a spectacular feast of edge-of-the-seat thrills and spills this past weekend (September 16/17) as the super-sized series took centre stage at Snetterton for the fifth event of the 2023 season.
On what proved to be a pivotal five races around the near three-mile Norfolk venue, the battle for supremacy in both Division 1 and Division 2 hit new heights as two drivers from each category shared the spoils.
Smith and Jenkins charge to victory in Division 1
Ryan Smith took another step closer to clinching an unprecedented eighth consecutive Division 1 title as he further extended his advantage at the top of the standings by charging to a hat-trick of race wins.
As he has done at every round this year, the Daimler Freightliner driver reigned supreme in Saturday’s qualifying session to claim a fifth pole position of the season in commanding style; pacing the opposition by more than a second.
The seven-time champion was wheel-perfect in a relatively tame opening encounter as he led home Stuart Oliver and Bradley Smith to claim yet another lights-to-flag victory.
If Smith’s performance in race one was deemed impressive, then his drive in race two was nothing short of astonishing as he produced one of the most dominant showings in the series’ recent history.
Starting from pole position, the Mansfield racer wasted no time in breaking clear of the chasing pack and from there he stretched his advantage lap-after lap; ultimately triumphing by more than 20 seconds ahead of Oliver and David Jenkins.
Prior to Snetterton, former champion Jenkins had yet to register a victory but that all changed in race three as he opened his account with a charging drive. Starting fifth, the MAN TGX racer carved his way up to second on the opening lap before setting off in pursuit of pole sitter John Bowler.
Closing in on the rear bumper of Bowler, it didn’t take Jenkins long to find a way past – doing so on lap three – and once in the lead it was a relatively untroubled run to the chequered flag as Bowler and Simon Reid squabbled for the remaining spots on the podium.
Just like buses, Jenkins didn’t have to wait too long for his second race win as he was declared the winner of a frenetic fourth contest. For a majority of the bout it had looked as if pole sitter Michael Oliver would triumph however race winners Smith and Jenkins were hot on his heels.
On the penultimate lap, points leader Smith finally found his way past Oliver at Nelson Corner and in doing so, that opened the door for Jenkins to follow him all the way to the chequered flag.
Victory however wasn’t Smith’s for long as officials deemed that he had gained an unfair advantage when tussling for the lead and he was hit with a 5.5 second time penalty; which relegated him to third and promoted Jenkins onto the top step of the podium.
Any dismay that Smith might have had about that result was soon put to bed in the weekend’s fifth and final race as clinched his hat-trick in emphatic fashion, charging from fourth to first in just two laps.
Behind, Steven Powell enjoyed a return to front-running form with a faultless drive on his way to second place whilst Ricky Collett secured a popular first podium of the campaign in third.
Rivett hits the opposition for four
NAPA Racing UK’s Paul Rivett made further in-roads to the summit of the Division 2 standings as he enjoyed a near-perfect weekend which included four wins and a second place finish.
Having tallied a quartet of victories last time out at Donington Park, the former multiple Renault UK Clio Cup champion repeated the feat at Snetterton as he maintained his momentum with a sensational performance in his MAN TGX.
Setting the pace in qualifying to clinch pole position, Rivett comfortably controlled proceedings in race one to triumph as title rivals Adam Bint and John Powell trailed behind in second and third.
Rivett delivered another masterclass in race two however all eyes were on Bint and Craig Evans who produced a mesmerising battle for the remaining spots on the rostrum, with former champion Bint ultimately coming out on top.
Race three would see a similar theme continue as Rivett broke clear to win whilst Evans once again launched an all-out attack – this time on Powell – in a bid to secure runners-up laurels. On the run to the line, Powell just edged Evans in a photo finish.
Rivett’s dominance was finally broken in the weekend’s penultimate contest as Powell reigned supreme. Hitting the front early, the DAF driver delivered a defensive masterclass as he fended off Rivett late on while Bint kept a watching brief in third.
One of standout moments from the weekend undoubtedly came in race five as Powell and Rivett produced a carbon copy performance from earlier in the day, however this time Rivett found a way past – and on the last lap no less.
In what was a pulsating ding-dong battle between the pair, nothing could split Powell and Rivett until the latter got a mighty run out of Bomb Hole on the final tour and slipped down the inside through Coram to claim overall spoils.
Elsewhere, Bint chalked up yet another podium finish, with other notable performances coming from the likes of Simon Cole and Jim Bennett.
To view the full classification of results from all British Truck Racing Championship sessions at Snetterton, CLICK HERE.
All five races from the fourth event of the season are available to view on the British Truck Racing Championship YouTube channel HERE.
The British Truck Racing Championship is next in action on October 7/8 when the series returns to Pembrey for the penultimate event of the season.