The last round of the British Truck Racing Championship was held last weekend 5th/6th November at the famous Kent circuit in Brands Hatch. With what turned out to be a record number of visitors through the gates, as well as the largest number of race trucks for more than twenty-five years, the last truck race event of the year was set to be a cracker.
Following the incident only three weeks earlier at Pembrey, Stuart had a hard challenge ahead of him to claim the 2016 championship title with his closest rival now holding a very comfortable championship lead. Never the less Stuart went out in the timed qualification session in what was very difficult, damp conditions and very soon he stamped his intention to try his best and posted a lap time over half of one second faster than any other driver thus claiming pole position for race one. Shane also following some serious truck re-building work after Pembrey, managed to secure fourth fastest overall, Michael also did not disappoint managing to secure sixth place overall in what was a packed field of twenty-six trucks.
The first race of the Class A trucks got underway early on the Saturday afternoon with Stuart making an early charge to distance himself from the pack. This lead he did not lose to the chequered flag, despite some strong challenges from Ryan Smith who at the end of the race finished in second place, securing him the 2016 BTRC title. Shane held station and finished in fourth place, Michael had a very eventful race swapping many places many times to finish in eighth place overall.
The second Class A race of the weekend was held on the Sunday morning with the reverse grid format coming into play. Stuart was at the back of the grid and Shane and Michael were a few rows forward. Unfortunately, when Stuart went out on the formation lap an air system fault developed with the truck leaving him with no air assist for gear changing and the brake cooling system. When the race got underway Shane and Michael managed immediately to make good progress through the pack, unfortunately mid-race Michael’s truck was hit hard from behind pushing him wide and off track at Druids, fortunately he was able to re-join the race, but in last place. Throughout the race Stuart was making progress but not at his normal pace. At the chequered flag Shane just missed out on a podium finish, crossing the line in fourth place, Stuart finished in eighth place, Michael made a great recovery from his unavoidable excursion and finished in tenth place overall.
What was meant to be the third Class A race of the weekend did not go to plan. When the red lights went out on the rolling start, Michael from the front row sped off clear of trouble. Stuart from the third row went through a gap in the second row to then find himself, when halfway through, being squeezed from both sides, with trucks pushing from behind which made him became a passenger in his own truck. This resulted in a flying race truck ride up and over the armco barrier at the end of the pit-lane. The race was immediately stopped and subsequently abandoned to allow for the clean-up, fortunately none of the drivers were injured and the blame was firmly pointed away from Stuart.
After some major repair work to the circuit infrastructure and to a number of race trucks the forth Class A race got underway. This time the race start went without drama, with fifteen trucks on the circuit the action was plentiful throughout the whole race. To add to the excitement in the closing laps of the race, one truck laid oil around the whole circuit resulting in very difficult driving conditions, the end result was good for Team Oliver Racing with Shane finishing in second place and Stuart in third place, only one tenth of a second behind. Michael scored his best result of the weekend finishing in a very well earned fifth place.
The final Class A race of the weekend and season was as always set to be a good one and to add to the excitement the rain had appeared and the light was fading fast. Stuart and Shane were starting from the back of the grid and Michael was starting from mid field. All drivers were eager to claim a podium finish in the last race, in front of the bumper crowds. The race got under way in what could be described for many reasons very difficult conditions. With many trucks exchanging places throughout, the crowds were undoubtedly entertained by a display of very good, high speed truck race action in fading light with headlights blazing. At the last chequered flag of the 2016 season Stuart had done enough to secure a third-place podium finish in the race, Shane finished in fifth place and Michael in ninth place overall.
In summary; Stuart and all at Team Oliver Racing are delighted with the overall championship results. It was recognised early in the year Stuart’s own BTRC campaign was going to be challenging, within what was a field of very good equipment, teams and drivers. “Finishing runner up behind the team that won the 2014 and 2015 FIA European Truck Race Championship, I am more than happy with”, said Stuart.
Shane started the season with an all new race machine and has not disappointed, with several successful trips across into Europe to participate in the FIA season as well as his strong challenge in the BTRC, he has managed to secure a well-deserved BTRC fifth place overall.
Michael “the new kid on the block”, with no previous race experience, started his race career by going straight into Class A of the BTRC. With an open mind in the team at the start of the season, Michael has excelled massively beyond expectations and performed well beyond what would be expected in his first year. To the extent he managed to secure eighth place overall in the BTRC.
Team Oliver Racing would like to take this opportunity to thank all who have worked with, supported and sponsored the team throughout the season and we look forward to bigger and better things in 2017.