The heavyweights of Motorsport roared into life at Brands Hatch on the 12th and 13 April 2014, as the opening meeting of the 2014 BTRA, British Truck Racing Championship got underway, for what would be another entertaining season. With eighteen monsters lining up to start their campaigns around the 1.2 mile Brands Hatch Indy circuit, the first five races of the new season would see competitive action in both Division One and Division Two. As former champions lined up in the ever strong Division 1 field, the addition of the 2013 Division Two Champion, made the field a lot stronger than it has ever been. With Smith making the step up in a newly brought Renault Premium Truck, he would be taking on multiple Division Champions, like defending Champ Mat Summerfield (Man TGX), 2012 Champion David Jenkins (Man TGX), Seven times Champion Stuart Oliver (Scania P1150) and finally multiple runner up Chris Levett (Renault Premium MKR), who is returning to the series after racing in the VW Cup. With strong Truckers on the grid capable of taking wins, who are after their first titles, 2013 race winners Steve Thomas and Ricky Collett will be looking for plenty of podiums at Brands Hatch, after a mix season in 2013. As an outsider but certainly a contender for race wins has to be the flying Dutchman, Cees Zandbergen, who would be tackling 2014 with the Scania T124 and is ever popular with the Truck Racing fans.
For the Division 2 class, nine competitors would be out to stick their name on the trophy, which of course would see a new champion after two years of David Smith’s domination. One of the favourites for the title is the 2013 runner up Brian Burt, who came so close to the title at the 2013 finale, before being ruled out of races three to five with severe damage and handing the title to Smith. In terms of David Smith’s departure, his race winning truck is now in the hands of Steve Rothery, meaning he propels himself as a favourite for class wins throughout the season and maybe even the title. One of the popular names in the Division Two class has always been Powell and in 2014, Steven and Graham will be returning to try an reclaim the Division Two title. With Brands Hatch being the local circuit for the Powell family, Steven and Graham would have plenty of support with them, as they compete in their Foden Alfa and Renault MACK trucks. Another returnee in this class to watch is the ever quick Jim Bennett, who in the Seddon Atkinson is always near the front of the Division Two Trucks competing hard for class wins. With Smith making the step up, the Division in 2014 should be a lot closer and the Trucks should be trading paintwork more than normal around some of the best circuits in the country. With the 2013 regulations remaining in force, 2014 will again see the Division Two leading at the start of the race, by having a head start on the faster Division One Trucks and meaning the action on truck can easily turn very exciting and provide plenty of entertainment. As drivers aren’t afraid to make contact with their rivals in an overtaking attempt, things could easily turn to carnage and the tight Brands Hatch Indy circuit will certainly keep all eighteen trucks nicely together, in all of the five races over the two days.
Summerfield Starts Title Defence in Best Possible Way
With Championship returnee Chris Levett taking Division One pole, the reverse grid saw the front row taken by Division Two Championship favourites Brian Burt and Simon Reid. Once the pace truck moved away, Burt and Reid ran each other close, with the Iveco moving into the race lead at Druids. As the Division One competitors got underway a few seconds later, contact between David Jenkins and Mat Summerfield at Graham Hill Bend showed that both would be throwing everything into the ring to claim the Championship title. As the race looked to be very exciting and very close in both Divisions, a red flag was triggered at Paddock Hill Bend. After missing qualifying, Graham Powell had joined the rear of the Division Two grid but entering into Paddock Hill Bend, he lost control of the No.55 Renault and fired into the gravel trap. As dust flew left, right and centre, a red flag was needed to allow the D&G Recovery team to remove the truck from a dangerous place and let the racing resume.
With everything cleared up and the race ready to resume, Simon Reid continued from where he left off, keeping Brian Burt’s Volvo at bay, whilst a strong battle between Steve Rothery and Steven Powell occurred over third position. For the Division One competitors, Mat Summerfield ended up getting the better of David Jenkins, who came under heavy pressure from the MAN of Steve Thomas. A battle over second place allowed Summerfield free to reduce the margin on the Division Two trucks and go for outright victory, closing on Brian Burt, who sat in third place.
As Reid and Rothery had a healthy lead and broke clear of a chasing Summerfield, the fight for positions in Division One really heated up in the closing stages. Jenkins ended up creating some breathing space for himself, whilst the pole man for Division One attacked Steve Thomas. Dicing around the Division 2 backmarkers, the Renault of Chris Levett overhauled the MAN of Thomas and within a few laps, closed right on Jenkins, creating a brilliant fight for second. The final two laps saw Jenkins and Levett rub paintwork, whilst Thomas pilled the pressure back on Levett, with the two rubbing into Graham Hill Bend. The battle ended with changes for positions, as Levett passed Jenkins before taking the flag.
Mat Summerfield easily took the outright victory to start his Championship defence in the best possible way and take control of Division One, whilst in Division Two, the victory was secured by Simon Reid, who completed the race in seventh position, after seeing the faster Division One trucks overhaul him in the later stages. Outside the podium places behind Levett and Jenkins, Steven Thomas ended up in fourth, a second ahead of Ricky Collett and Stuart Oliver, with the multiple Truck Racing Champion giving his brand new Scania a sixth place finish on its debut. With Ben Horne finishing in eighth as the final Division One competitor in the top ten, Steve Rothery and Ryan Smith finished in ninth and tenth, to be on the Division Two podium.
British Truck Racing Championship Race one
1. Mat Summerfield (MAN – Div 1) = 16 Laps
2. Christopher Levett (Renault – Div 1) = +6.645s
3. David Jenkins (MAN – Div 1) = +6.727s
4. Steven Thomas (MAN – Div 1) = +7.463s
5. Ricky Collett (MAN – Div 1) = +8.846s
6. Stuart Oliver (Scania – Div 1) = +11.824s
7. Simon Reid (Iveco – Div 2) = +21.978s
8. Ben Horne (MAN – Div 1) = +22.199s
9. Steve Rothery (Foden – Div 2) = +38.034s
10. Ryan Smith (Sisu – Div 2) = +1 Lap
The result was amended post race with the No.7 Truck of Stuart Oliver being excluded from sixth position. The reason for the exclusion was due to the Scania not being eligible and breaking the regulations in relation to maximum speed. With the trucks restricted to 100mph, Oliver’s Scania was checked and discovered to be carrying more speed through the speed traps, than what was allowed.
Collett Ends Saturday with Race Victory
For the second race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon, the Division Two started out-front with a terrific battle between the experienced Steven Powell and newcomer Ryan Smith, seeing the Sisu of Smith lead Division Two after a superb move around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend. Whilst Division Two involved four for the lead, with Reid and Rothery grabbing a piece of the action, Division One saw the “Flying Dutchman” of Cees Zandbergen lead on the opening lap, with Ricky Collett and David Jenkins heavily contesting second and Mat Summerfield moving from the back of the grid to fourth.
The man on the move was certainly race one winner Mat Summerfield, as after a couple of the laps, the 2012 and 2013 Champion had dispatched Jenkins and Collett and then moved into the lead. A mistake for Zandbergen allowed the MAN truck to slip past at Graham Hill Bend and take control of Division One. The mistake for the “Flying Dutchman” cost him a lot more places than just the one, with Collett taking second and Chris Levett moving the Renault into third.
Back to the Division Two trucks and Ryan Smith continued to lead, ahead of a chasing Simon Reid and Steve Rothery. With the Division One Trucks closing in at the later stages and splitting the pack up, an aggressive Chris Levett collided with Summerfield entering Graham Hill Bend, sending trucks everywhere. With everyone trying to avoid Levett and Summerfield, this meant there were plenty of changes for position. One of the biggest suffers of this incident ended up being Division Two leader Ryan Smith, whose race came to a sad end, seeing the newcomer park up on the entrance to Surtees and effectively promote Simon Reid as Division Two leader. This was certainly tragic for Smith who lost a chance for his first win in Trucks, in what was only his second ever circuit race.
The incident between Levett and Summerfield further opened the door in the Division One class for Jenkins and Collett to take one and two, but there was further drama with the No.69 Truck, as Jenkins slowed and was forced to park up on the side of the track. With Collett free to break away and record his first win of the new season, Chris Levett and Mat Summerfield were joined by Steve Thomas in the battle for the podium places. With Thomas ahead of Levett, a move on Summerfield at Druids allowed Levett to swoop pass both and secure second place, ahead of Mat Summerfield.
As Steve Thomas ended up in fourth, a fifth position for Simon Reid secured another Division Two win, a second ahead of Division rival Steve Rothery. As Stuart Oliver finished in seventh ahead of Ben Horne, German guest driver Heinz Werner Lenz came home ninth in his father’s Mercedes Truck, ahead of 2013 Division Two Champion Dave Smith, who completed the top ten in his Division One Renault.
British Truck Racing Championship Race two
1. Ricky Collett (MAN – Div 1) = 15 Laps
2. Christopher Levett (Renault – Div 1) = +7.996s
3. Mat Summerfield (MAN – Div 1) = +9.390s
4. Steven Thomas (MAN – Div 1) = +9.748s
5. Simon Reid (Iveco – Div 2) = +14.895s
6. Steve Rothery (Foden – Div 2) = +15.512s
7. Stuart Oliver, (Scania – Div 1) = +15.615s
8. Ben Horne (MAN – Div 1) = +16.098s
9. Heinz Werner Lenz (Mercedes – Div 1) = +30.229s
10. David Smith (Renault – Div 1) = +40.153s
Summerfield Doubles Up In First of Sunday’s Races.
For the first race of three on Sunday, the Division Two trucks saw the lead of the race taken by Steve Rothery, who in the Foden Alpha of last year’s Champion Dave Smith, made a quick getaway ahead of Reid and Steven Powell. With the Division Two successfully navigating the opening lap, the class of Division One saw overseas competitors Sascha Lenz and Cees Zandbergen get into a battle with reigning champion, Mat Summerfield.
With the Division One Trucks catching the slower Division Two trucks quicker than expected, Summerfield led the chase, whilst chaos erupted out front. Newcomer Ryan Smith ended up dismissing his bonnet along the Brabham Straight, after a coming together with rear of Steve Rothery’s Foden. With Powell out front, Reid passed Rothery and Smith during the chaos, whilst Summerfield easily dispatched all four in the next few corners. In terms of the rest in Division One, the gap Summerfield created effectively ruled them out of contention for the race win, but that wasn’t stopping Chris Levett.
With David Jenkins dropping himself down to the rear of the field after a mistake, the battle for second in Division One was between Zandbergen, Levett and Steve Thomas. With Levett using the power of his Renault to move into second, he set his sights on trying to reduce Summerfield’s advantage. Levett’s experience of the British Championship and the Brands Hatch circuit allowed him to take huge strides and reduce the gap sufficiently. With the race reaching the final lap, the margin was only 1.071s, with Levett eyeing up Summerfield for a pass. With no opportunity to dive pass the MAN truck of Summerfield on the final loop of the Indy circuit; Summerfield recorded a double for the weekend. Taking the final podium spot ended up being Steve Thomas, who worked his way ahead of Zandbergen in the final few minutes.
With the rest of the top nine held by Division One trucks in the order of Ricky Collett fifth, Stuart Oliver in sixth, Sascha Lenz in his Dad’s truck crossing the line seventh, Ben Horne eighth and finally Jenkins in ninth, the top ten was completed by Division Two winner Simon Reid. In the final stages for the Division Two trucks, Simon Reid found his way past Steve Rothery to claim a third class victory, whilst second was secured by Ryan Smith, who in the bonnet-less Sisu moved ahead of Rothery.
British Truck Racing Championship Race three
1. Mat Summerfield (MAN – Div 1) = 16 Laps
2. Christopher Levett (Renault – Div 1) = +0.651s
3. Steven Thomas (MAN – Div 1) = +7.4878s
4. Cees Zandbergen (Scania – Div 1) = +14.972s
5. Ricky Collett (MAN – Div 1) = +17.786s
6. Stuart Oliver, (Scania – Div 1) = +20.483s
7. Sascha Lenz (Mercedes – Div 1) = +22.433s
8. Ben Horne (MAN – Div 1) = +22.482s
9. David Jenkins (MAN – Div 1) = +29.482s
10. Simon Reid (Iveco – Div 2) = +41.310s
The above result was amended post race, with Stuart Oliver given a thirty seconds penalty for exceeding track limits. He was demoted to thirteen place as a result, whilst the No.69 MAN of David Jenkins was excluded from the result. Jenkins was originally given a five second penalty for track limits, but penalised further for breaking regulation C.1.1.9 which was Behaviour. As a result, the top ten was amended to read Lenz (6th), Horne (7th), Reid (8th), Smith (9th) and finally Rothery in tenth.
First Win of 2014 for Levett in Brand New Renault Truck
The fourth race of the weekend ended up seeing a red flag in the early stages, as three wide for the Division Two trucks ended in disaster for Ryan Smith’s Sisu. With Smith’s truck stranded and the recovery team called, a small delay was required before the restart. Once the race did resume, the leader of the race was Graham Powell, whilst his brother Steven was defending second.
When the Division Two trucks got underway, Stuart Oliver led the way, whilst the rest of the pack squabbled over second and third. One driver who suffered in the squabbling was race two winner Ricky Collett, who was pushed wide at Surtees and lost plenty of ground on his rivals. Behind the leading Scania of Oliver, double race winner was fighting hard with Chris Levett, seeing the Renault and MAN Trucks swap positions.
Back at the front in the Division Two class, the front four were covered by only a few seconds, with Graham Powell continuing to lead his brother and Rothery, with Reid closely behind in fourth. With Reid moving ahead of Rothery after pilling on so much pressure, the triple class winner then set himself on Steven Powell. When Graham Powell retired after nine laps, Simon Reid was promoted into the class lead, with the Division One Trucks now making their way up the order.
With Chris Levett moving into the race lead with a brilliant move on Stuart Oliver into Druids, Mat Summerfield followed through into second and then tried really hard to secure a third race win. For Oliver, he unfortunately ended up losing another position in only a few laps, as Steve Thomas took third place, dropping Oliver’s Scania into the path of David Jenkins. With traffic building up around the Indy Circuit, Levett managed his timing of overtakes to perfection, but Summerfield and Thomas were still only a few seconds adrift. With the three nicely together, the position never changed and Levett secured his win since returning to the British Truck Racing Championship.
Just outside the podium places, Stuart Oliver kept hold of fourth, two seconds ahead of David Jenkins. Only a second down on Jenkins at the flag was German Heinz Werner Lenz in his bright orange Mercedes, whilst Horne, Collett and Zandbergen ended up as the final Division One competitors within the top ten. Finishing the race in tenth position, Simon Reid took his fourth Division Two win of the weekend, ahead of Steve Powell and a fiery Steve Rothery.
British Truck Racing Championship Race four
1. Christopher Levett, Renault – Div 1) = 16 Laps
2. Mat Summerfield (MAN – Div 1) = +2.577s
3. Steven Thomas (MAN – Div 1) = +5.317s
4. Stuart Oliver (Scania – Div 1) = +16.424s
5. David Jenkins (MAN – Div 1) = +18.154s
6. Heinz-Werner Lenz (Mercedes – Div 1) = +19.889s
7. Ben Horne (MAN – Div 1) = +20.198s
8. Ricky Collett (MAN – Div 1) = +20.677s
9. Cees Zandbergen (Scania – Div 1) = +23.224s
10. Simon Reid (Iveco – Div 2) = +36.694s
Track Limit Penalty for Jenkins Gives Summerfield a Treble for the Weekend
The final race of the weekend ended up seeing Brian Burt’s Volvo at the front of the field in Division Two, with a battle of Volvo occurring early on between Burt and Adam Bint. With Bint unfortunately losing ground on the Volvo of Burt, the truck to watch out for in this class was Steve Rothery. With Rothery chasing hard, Burt’s margin decreased very quickly. In the Division One class, Ricky Collett was the earlier leader but David Jenkins was on a mission for a race win, after having to see his rivals secure victories in the earlier races, especially with Summerfield currently on two and Levett and Collett on one.
With plenty of close racing providing lots of overtaking opportunities, yellow flags at Paddock Hill Bend cancelled lots of opportunities. After dominating Division Two, Simon Reid ended up beached in the gravel after sliding off entering the corner. With the Truck luckily sitting in a safe place, the red flag wasn’t needed and yellow flags slowed the race until at a safe pace to resume and no risk of someone sliding off and hitting the stranded Iveco.
With Collett continuing to lead Jenkins, the passing of the Division Two trucks slowed their momentum and allowed Summerfield and Levett to close in on them. The four trucks were nicely together in the closing stages, with Jenkins producing an aggressive move into Graham Hill Bend and snatching the lead from Collett. With Collett then colliding with the rear of Jenkins, a mistake saw him dive to the grass and promote a lot of field pass him. Summerfield and Levett were now promoted into the podium places and free to chase down David Jenkins, who was determined to take the race win. The mistake for Collett unfortunately saw his race end there and then, with the truck pulled into the pit lane with heavy front end damage.
With enough of a gap between Jenkins and Summerfield after the retirement of Collett, Jenkins crossed the line after fourteen laps to take the race win. With celebrations happening throughout the paddock with Jenkins securing his first win of the year, this was cut short by a steward’s decision. Jenkins had been deemed by the stewards to have overstepped the curves around the Brands Hatch circuit and therefore hit with a five seconds penalty. The penalty effectively dropped the “MAN IN BLACK” to third, giving Summerfield the race win and what was his third of the weekend. Chris Levett was handed second and topped off a strong weekend for his return to the championship in the brand new Renault. Outside the top three, Cees Zandbergen finished a couple of seconds ahead of Thomas, Horne and Oliver, whilst the rest of the top three was completed by Division Two competitors. Winning Division Two ended up being Steven Powell, finally breaking the dominance of Simon Reid. The rest of the Division Two podium was made up of Steve Rothery and Ryan Smith, with Reid crashing out of the race on lap three.
British Truck Racing Championship Race five
1. Mat Summerfield (MAN – Div 1) = 14 Laps
2. Christopher Levett (Renault – Div 1) = +3.303s
3. David Jenkins (MAN – Div 1) = +4.394s
4. Cees Zandbergen (Scania – Div 1) = +7.947s
5. Steven Thomas (MAN – Div 1) = +10.334s
6. Ben Horne (MAN – Div 1) = +20.545s
7. Stuart Oliver (Scania – Div 1) = +24.555s
8. Steven Powell (Foden Alfa – Div 2) = +29.065s
9. Steve Rothery (Foden – Div 2) = +41.583s
10. Ryan Smith (Sisu – Div 2) = +42.658s
The result above was amended post-race with Division Two competitor Ryan Smith receiving a five seconds penalty for exceeding track limits, which dropped him behind Dave Smith into eleventh and gave the 2013 Division Two champion his second top ten finish of the weekend since his step up to Division One in the Renault Premium Truck.
With the opening five races now completed and a few weeks until round two in Pembrey, Wales, it is obvious in both Divisions that there shouldn’t really be a stand out run away Championship challenger, as even with Simon Reid taking four wins in Division Two and Mat Summerfield with three in Division One, the points don’t really reflect their dominance. In Division One, Mat Summerfield does lead the standings on forty-seven points, but the gap over his closest rival and the rest of the field is only one point. After plenty of podiums and a win in race four, returnee Chris Levett is Summerfield’s closest rival, showing his experience in the championship and the strength of the Renault Truck, which of course has been a race winner in Europe. The good thing about Division One is with five drivers capable of taking race wins and so many points to be scored during a weekend, there is plenty of chances for drivers to take points off one another. Following Summerfield and Levett in the standings is race two winner, Ricky Collett, who lies in third on thirty-six points, eleven back from Summerfield. With Stuart Oliver and David Jenkins currently lying in seventh and eighth, you can expect plenty of fight-back from these former champions in Wales.
Points Standings in Division One:
1. Mat Summerfield = 47
2. Chris Levett = 46
3. Steve Thomas = 36
4. Ricky Collett = 25
5. Ben Horne = 23
6. Cees Zandbergen = 22
7. David Jenkins = 22
8. Stuart Oliver = 18
9. Heinz-Werner Lenz = 17
10. Dave Smith = 11
In Division Two, Simon Reid might have dominated the Division with four victories, but the point standings don’t reflect this. With Simon ending up with a DNF in race five, this allowed Steve Rothery to take the championship lead on forty-three points, three ahead of Reid and five in front of Steven Powell, who currently has thirty-eight points. In the Division Two championship standings, there are a few competitors who are certainly strong enough to challenge for the title. One driver who didn’t have a strong enough weekend at Brands Hatch was championship favourite Brian Burt, who in his Volvo White Truck lies in fifth in the standings on twenty-eight points. With the championship heading to Wales for the next round, you can expect Brian to be fighting towards the front of the Division, as well as newcomer Ryan Smith and previous champion Graham Powell, who are sixth and seventh respectively.
Points Standings in Division Two:
1. Steve Rothery = 43
2. Simon Reid = 40
3. Steven Powell = 38
4. Adam Bint = 35
5. Brian Burt = 28
6. Ryan Smith = 25
7. Graham Powell = 5
8. James Aikenhead = 5
9. Simon Cole = 5
For more information on the British Truck Racing Association, please visit www.britishtruckracing.co.uk
Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs