Last weekend 25th 26th March at Brands Hatch was the date and venue for the opening round of the 2017 BTRC (British Truck Racing Championship). Many teams arrived in the paddock on Friday to show for the first time their new race machines following the winter break. It was with no doubt that Stuart’s new racing truck was the greatest unexpected change and surprise.
As always during winter breaks several trucks change hands but it is not very often the trucks identity changes in such a way as that of the TOR (Team Oliver Racing) VOLVO. Due to the tight timing of the winter modification work the team did not get to shake-down the VOLVO subsequently it therefore did not get seen out and about.
In the glorious spring sunshine when Stuart went out on track in the first of the two Friday test session, it was clear the performance of the new conventional cab configuration was greatly improved from that of the previous cab-over version. After the team made a few small set-up changes following the second test session Stuart was ready for the qualification session. Michael in the TOR SCANIA was also happy with the winter modifications to his truck.During the qualification session Stuart set a blistering lap time of 59.414 putting him easily on pole position for race one. Michael did not disappoint and managed to post a lap time of 1:01.89 securing him eighth place on the start grid.
For the first Class-A race of the season on the Saturday, again the sun was shining bright making the track conditions close to perfect. As soon as the start lights went out Stuart made his trademark flying start and ultimately dominated the whole race from flag to flag comfortably taking the first race win of the season. Michael who started in the middle of the pack managed to hold his own among stiff competition and crossed the finish line in eighth place.
Race two, on Sunday the reverse-grid start came into play meaning Stuart was starting from the very back of the grid and Michael was starting again from the middle of the grid. When the start lights went out, very quickly both the TOR trucks made headway up through the field, Michael was locked in a lap after lap battle trying to hold onto third position unfortunately in the closing stage of the race he was overhauled on the exit of Clearway’s demoting him down from a podium position to cross the finish line in a very respectable fourth place, Stuart had a hard-fought race managing to cross the finish line close behind Michael in fifth place.
Race three, Stuart and Michael both started side by side from the third row of the grid, when the lights went out they both did not delay in putting on the pressure, by mid-race Stuart was through into second place unfortunately the leader had pulled out a significant lead that Stuart managed to greatly reduced before taking the chequered flag in second place. Michael held on to a strong mid-field position until the final lap of the race when unfortunately, the engine in Michael’s truck suffered terminal engine damage that brought his race and weekend to a sudden end.
Race four, the last truck race of the weekend Michael’s truck was out of action, Stuart again started the race from the back row of the grid, again as soon as the race start lights went out Stuart made no delay in working forward up through the pack, spending the later part of the race in a six-truck nose to tail battle with all crossing the finish line within three seconds with Stuart in fourth place.
Post-race when the race result points were calculated it transpired that Stuart had come out on top and he left Brands Hatch leading the championship.Stuart was delighted with the performance of his newly modified VOLVO race truck and said the performance and subsequent weekend results were far beyond expectation. Michael was very happy with his own performance, unfortunately a terminal engine problem brought his race weekend to an earlier than expected end. The team now have a few weeks before the next BTRC round at Pembrey on 22nd 23rd April to implement additional performance enhancing modifications to Stuart’s truck and to do some serious engine re-build work to Michael’s truck.