The British Truck Racing Championship closed out its 2023 season in spectacular fashion at Brands Hatch last weekend (November 4/5) as Ryan Smith and Paul Rivett were crowned champions of Division 1 and Division 2 respectively.
In front of a sell-out crowd, the super-sized series took centre stage at the famous Kent venue to conclude what has been another captivating full-throttle campaign; and as expected there were plenty of thrills and spills across both days.
Ryan Smith cemented his status as one of the championship’s greatest drivers as he claimed an unprecedented eighth successive Division 1 title – doing so in style too by powering his way to a hat-trick of race wins.
Unbelievably there was nothing to separate Paul Rivett and Adam Bint in the battle for Division 2 honours, with the pair ending the season tied on points. Dramatically, Rivett was crowned champion on count back, having won more races than Bint over the course of the year.
Eight is great for Ryan Smith
History was made in Division 1 in 2023 as Smith successfully retained his title for an eighth consecutive year, putting him to within two title triumphs of the all-time record which is currently held by Stuart Oliver.
Arriving at Brands Hatch holding a commanding advantage in the standings, the Daimler Freightliner driver – who has largely been the man to beat throughout the season – produced a superlative display to clinch championship glory.
Qualifying on Saturday morning proved to be a damp affair with heavy rain bringing proceedings to a premature end. Making the best of the conditions was Tom O’Rourke who blasted his way to a maiden pole position ahead of Smith while Jock Borthwick completed the top three.
Unfortunately, two separate red flag stoppages meant that just one lap of racing would be completed in the opening contest and a result was subsequently unable to be declared by officials.
Oliver found himself involved in the first incident, with his Team Oliver Racing Volvo VNL sustaining major damage that would rule him out of race two and all-but end his slim championship chances in the process.
Race two was also interrupted by a brief stoppage however action resumed for ten minutes and it resulted in a superlative victory for Smith. Starting from fifth, the multiple champion dispatched John Bowler and Michael Oliver before then setting off after David Jenkins and leader O’Rourke.
Closing down the top two within a matter of laps, Smith surged into the lead and didn’t look back. As he romped to victory, O’Rourke claimed a season-best second place while Jenkins rounded out the podium in third.
Smith sealed the crown in style on Sunday morning as he claimed yet another victory. After Oliver’s misfortune on Saturday, Jenkins was left as Smith’s main challenger and the experienced racer did all he could do to try and keep the fight going.
Leading for much of the race, Jenkins was wheel-perfect however he could do nothing to stop the charging Smith, who made the decisive move for the lead into Paddock Hill Bend. Once out front, the Mansfield racer was untroubled and romped to not only the win, but the championship too.
With the title in the bag, Smith then chalked up another emphatic drive to the top step of the podium as he hunted down Simon Reid and Bradley Smith to claim victory in race four.
Sadly, the final race of the season was unable to be completed following barrier damage from an accident involving Steven Powell and Simon Reid on the run up to Druids.
Paul Rivett pips Adam Bint to Division 2 crown
NAPA Racing UK’s Rivett claimed a remarkable maiden Division 2 title at Brands Hatch after being crowned champion on a tie-break, having ended the year with the same amount of points as season-long adversary Bint.
On a weekend that saw the pendulum swing back-and-forth between both drivers, Rivett’s superior win record over the course of the season proved to be the difference in ensuring that he was the one that lifted the coveted crown.
Just one point split the pair heading into the weekend and as series leader Bint blasted his way to pole position in qualifying, the stage was set for a tantalising showdown.
Race one served up plenty of high drama as Rivett got caught caught up in an incident on the opening lap which ended his chances of finishing on the spot and put the ball firmly in Bint’s court.
However, with the red flag coming out to recover stricken machines and then a second red flag being waved on the restart, a result was unable to be declared and that therefore meant that nobody scored points – which kept just a single marker between the pair.
Races two, three and four were packed with attrition with Rivett and Bint scoring a win apiece and also clashing on two occasions as the field streamed through Surtees. Amongst the action was John Powell and Craig Evans, who were also scrapping between themselves for silverware.
With Rivett having snared a fastest lap in one contest, the tussling title protagonists entered the final race of the season tied on points and the stage was set for a ‘winner takes all’ charge to the chequered flag.
Unfortunately, an accident further up the order in the Division 1 ranks caused substantial damage to the armco barrier and the decision was made by organisers to abandon the race meeting.
That therefore left both drivers still on the same number of points however Rivett’s sensational 18 race wins to Bint’s six meant that he was declared champion for the first time in his illustrious career.
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 Truck Racing Championship YouTube channel HERE.
The British Truck Racing Championship will return in 2024, with the calendar set to be announced in due course.