Ryan Smith and Luke Garrett were crowned champions at a wet Brands Hatch this past weekend (November 5/6) as the British Truck Racing Championship concluded its 2022 campaign in spectacular fashion.
In front of a sell-out crowd, the titans of truck racing took centre stage in challenging conditions to bring the curtain down on what has undoubtedly been a season to remember.
As they have done for the past six years, Division 1 spoils fell the way of Ryan Smith whilst Luke Garrett returned to the top of the Division 2 mountain, sealing the coveted championship for the third time in his illustrious career.
Seventh heaven for Ryan Smith
It was seventh heaven for Ryan Smith as he successfully retained his Division 1 crown, further extending his title streak to a now unprecedented seven in-a-row.
Arriving at the Kent venue holding a commanding lead in the standings, the MAN Truck driver – who has been the man to beat throughout 2022 – didn’t put a wheel ring during Saturday’s track action to secure another title triumph.
Mastering the wet conditions to clinch pole position in qualifying, Smith reigned supreme in the weekend’s opening contest – which was truncated by two red flag stoppages for incidents involving the likes of Bradley Smith and David Jenkins.
When the action did get underway – albeit to the slightly reduced time of eight minutes – Smith fended off the advances of Stuart Oliver through Paddock Hill Bend and up to Druids and from there he controlled proceedings all the way to the chequered flag ahead of Oliver and Craig Reid.
Needing just two more points to secure championship glory, Smith was perfection personified in race two. Again shortened due to a stoppage following separate incidents for Jenkins and Tom O’Rourke, Smith delivered a measured drive to claim victory.
Pulling clear of the chasing pack – which was led by ten-time title winner Oliver and John Newell – Smith charged to his second victory of the day and with it, the 2022 Division 1 title.
Conditions would only worsen on Sunday with race three starting under yellow flag conditions. When the green flag was finally waved, the bumper crowd in attendance were treated to a captivating battle for the lead which was headed by home hero Steven Powell.
Tip-toeing around the 1.2-mile circuit, Powell delivered a virtuoso performance as he resisted multiple challenges for top spot, holding on to clinch a popular second win of the season ahead of Mark Taylor and Jenkins.
Unfortunately, a multi-truck incident – which involved Taylor and Jenkins along with several others – on the run up to Druids brought the race to an early finish with just a couple of minutes left on the clock.
Race four would see Smith – who was one of several drivers to sustain damage in the aforementioned accident – produce a champions drive to clinch victory. Starting from eighth, the Mansfield racer scythed his way up the order in the opening laps and soon pulled clear as Newell and Powell tussled for the remaining spots on the rostrum.
The weekend’s fifth and final contest would see Reid produce a superlative drive to clinch his first victory of the year. Bradley Smith had led the early going but when he suffered a spin at Surtees it was Reid that benefitted and from there he didn’t look back, leading home Jenkins and O’Rourke.
Luke Garrett clinches Division 2 title honours
The battle for supremacy at the top of Division 2 went down the wire with Luke Garrett ultimately pipping Brad Smith to win the prestigious title by a handful of points.
Signing off another action-packed campaign for the category, the top two took their season-long duel into the final race of the season but despite Smith’s best efforts, Garrett wasn’t to be denied a third championship crown.
Qualifying on Saturday saw Jock Borthwick – who had entered the weekend in mathematical contention for the big prize – dominate to clinch pole position and up until the final stages of race one it had looked as if he would convert it into victory.
Having fended off the race-long advances of Garrett, the Scotsman could do nothing to stop the series leader from powering alongside him on the run to the chequered flag and pipping him to victory by an astonishing 0.078s. Further back, Adam Bint rounded out the podium in third place.
Borthwick would get to enjoy that winning feeling in the weekend’s second bout as he produced a controlled drive ahead of Smith and Bint. Crucially, fifth place for Garrett meant that the points pendulum continued to swing back and forth between the championship protagonists.
Race three would see Borthwick continue his fine run of form with a second successive victory ahead of Bint and John Powell, whilst Smith and Garrett endured mixed fortunes – the latter finishing two laps down after suffering a trip into the tyre wall on the run to Graham Hill Bend.
Despite that off, Garrett would bounce back a few hours later to claim a crucial win in race four. Shadowing John Bowler for much of the race, the MAN driver made a decisive move late on to triumph whilst Bowler settled for second and Bint continued his impressive form with yet another third place finish.
Fourth place for Smith set up a title showdown heading into the final race of the season, with Garrett crucially holding a five-point advantage over the DAF of Smith.
In what proved to be a race of attrition, Smith did all he could do overhaul the points deficit he was faced with by storming to victory. Making an astonishing move for the lead at Druids on the first lap, Smith romped to victory ahead of Borthwick however third place for Garrett was enough for him to seal the title for a third time.
To view the full classification of results from all British Truck Racing Championship sessions at Brands Hatch, CLICK HERE.
All fives races from the final event of the season are available to view on the British Automobile Racing Club YouTube channel HERE.
The British Truck Racing Championship will return in 2023, with a seven-event calendar that is poised to travel the length and breadth of the UK.