Fizz, Bang, Wallop at BRANDS HATCH!
The final British Truck Race Championship event of 2018 took place last weekend (3rd & 4th November) at the immaculate MSV Brands Hatch circuit in Kent. Many of the teams, including Team Oliver, arrived early to take advantage of the two Friday test sessions, both Stuart and Martin used this track time to setup the trucks to best suit the circuit ahead of the final race weekend and, by Friday evening, the team had managed to erect what was an impressive team paddock area to accommodate the large number of sponsors, friends and families that attended the event.
On Saturday morning, the trucks went out onto a damp track to qualify for the first race of the weekend. During the session Stuart was holding his own up at the top of the timing screen and Martin also was posting very respectful lap times. Stuart’s last flying lap put him third fastest overall and then, within the thirty seconds following and the rapidly changing track conditions, Stuart was pipped by several following trucks and ended the session overall sixth fastest. Martin, on his last flying lap, posted a very respectful lap time that put him onto fourth place on the start grid for race one.
Race one got underway mid Saturday afternoon and, even though the sun was out, the circuit was still very cold and damp making the grip very unpredictable. On the rolling start both Team Oliver trucks got away very well. Martin was holding his own among the front runners and Stuart was lap by lap, one by one, overtaking the trucks ahead. By the chequered flag Stuart was up to a podium finish position in third place with Martin not far behind and crossing the finish line in fifth.
On Sunday morning race two got underway with the reverse grid format, meaning Stuart was near the back of the grid and Martin in the middle and, again, the circuit was damp and cold. Martin wasted no time in moving up the order, with Stuart doing much the same. Martin had, without doubt, mastered the technique of getting around the Kent race circuit in good time and was holding strong in third place until the closing lap of the race when an over ambitious move by another driver pushed Martin wide and off the circuit at Paddock Hill. Stuart, however, found himself in a strange predicament after an incident on the penultimate lap when his truck was squeezed between another and the pit wall, causing Stuarts truck to jump up in the air and attach itself with the steering axle up off the ground to the rear of the other truck. Stuart then became merely a passenger for the remainder of the race, hitching a ride on the back of another truck until after the chequered flag. Overall Martin finished the race in a very respectable fourth place and Stuart in ninth.
Sunday’s second race underway straight after the lunch break, providing entertainment for the bumper crowd, many of whom we in attendance to see the race action as well as the end of day spectacular MSV firework display. Stuart, as always, was determined to prove he could deliver race wins. Martin started the race from the second to back row of the grid and Stuart, due to the incident in the previous race, from up at the front. When the start lights went out Stuart was off to an immediate race lead. Martin was also not hanging back and he soon made headway past several trucks ahead. Stuart drove a faultless race taking full control, so much so he won the race by a magnificent margin of more than twenty-three seconds ahead of the truck finishing in second place! Martin also did not disappoint and crossed the finish line in a well-earned sixth place.
The final race of both the weekend and the 2018 British Championship started as the sun was setting on Sunday evening and this time Stuart was starting from the very back of the grid and Martin from the middle. Martin quickly moved forward in the order with Stuart soon close behind. Unfortunately, Martin’s truck was hit again by the same driver as earlier – this time sending them both off onto the grass. Martin very soon recovered and continued to the end of the race to finish in ninth place. Stuart’s truck also encountered a few race contact issues delaying his progress, however by the chequered flag, Stuart was up into sixth place.
Following the final race Stuart and his team discussed the overall performance throughout the season and all members were, for another year, very happy with the team’s outstanding performance – having secured no less than sixteen visits to the podium!
Unfortunately, not all was positive as a large majority of team members within the race paddock made no secret of the major disappointments due to unscrupulous irregularities and inconsistencies made throughout the season by the championship management however, all hopes are set on seeing many positive changes being implemented prior to the 2019 BTRC season.