There would be fireworks on and off the track for the British Truck Racing Championship season finale as the BTRC rolled into Brands Hatch on the 4th and 5th November 2017. A speculator season had yet again seen the five-tonne machines go to war and with Division 2 concluded at Pembrey; attention was firmly on Division 1 and the battle between reigning champion Ryan Smith and ten times champion Stuart Oliver. Smith was in touching distance of the crown at Pembrey but had to wait for the season finale and was now even closer to his second title. With twelve trucks competing within Division 1 around the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy circuit, Stuart Oliver was the only driver mathematically in with a chance of dethroning Smith, sitting thirty-nine points adrift. Division 1 is mostly the main attraction and a target for a lot of the drivers competing, especially as there are multiple champions lining the grid. Leading the line-up in the battle against Smith and Oliver for points was undoubtedly four times champion Mat Summerfield, who was targeting third in the overall standings, overhauling friend and rival David Jenkins and then multiple race winner Shane Brereton. The three were covered by only ten points with Jenkins in the driving seat for third. There was potential for one of these to overhaul Oliver for second, as the gap was only six points between second and third place and sixteen between second and fifth. Also within the field targeting wins and podiums at the finale was former champion Richard Collett, Dutchman Frans Smit, 2015 Division 2 champion Simon Reid and lastly Stuart Oliver’s son Michael, a regular on the grid this season.
In terms of Division 2, the title for 2017 was sealed by Finland’s Mika Makinen at the previous round at Pembrey, therefore seeing Brands as the contest for second and a chance for drivers to dent the win record produced by Mika. Leading the fight for second at would be his home round was Tony Smith, sitting on 159 points and nineteen ahead of reigning class champion Adam Bint. Another local driver who also in the hunt was with Simon Cole, lying fourth on 130 points, but only narrowly ahead of Paul McCumisky by one point. For the season finale there would be nineteen trucks in Division 2 and majority have been race winners, especially at Brands Hatch, which is the local circuit for Steve Powell, John Powell, James Aitkenhead, Wayne and Joanne Eason, and lastly Andrew Fulcher. This made for entertaining racing which would get underway Saturday afternoon.
Title Crowned in Style on Saturday
The first day of action for the BTRC finale saw the opening race for Division 1 and Division 2, with Division 2 getting proceedings under way. The title had already been wrapped up in this Division prior to Brands Hatch and unfortunately this race took a while to get going. Two red flags halted the progress of the 2017 champion Mika Makinen in claiming the opening victory and instead over a revised running of five laps, Luke Garrett recorded the opening victory. On the restart Mika did hold an advantage; however, a fight from Tony Smith and Luke Garrett saw the Finland driver dropped to third and into the clutches of Steve Powell and Adam Bint. Garrett overhauled Smith on the run into Druids and broke clear of the field to win race one by over three seconds with Smith a comfortable second.
British Truck Racing Championship Division 2 Race One:
- Luke Garrett (No.42 – MAN TGA 14000) = 6:04.824s
- Tony Smith (No.46 – Sisu SL250 11000) = +3.456s
- Mika Makinen (No.71 – Sisu SL250 11000) = +7.651s
- Steve Powell (No.3 – ERF EC1 13000) = +8.332s
- Adam Bint (No.5 – Volvo White 12000) = +8.988s
In the opening race for Division 1, Shane Brereton lined up on pole position, alongside defending champion and champion in waiting Ryan Smith. In the No.1 MAN TGA 12000, Smith only need one point to wrap up his second British Truck Racing Championship title and was in the perfect position to do so on the front row. His championship rival and ten times champion Stuart Oliver lined up on row two, alongside the ever-popular David Jenkins. When the lights went out, Smith got a fantastic start from front row and it didn’t take him long to pass Brereton’s MAN TGX 12000 and break away into a comfortable lead. There was an intense battle for second and David Jenkins moved ahead of Brereton on lap nine for second, after moving clear of a chasing Stuart Oliver in fourth. The top four positions would remain over the final few laps and victory for Smith sealed him the Division 1 title in consecutive seasons. Taking the final spot within the top five behind Oliver was Simon Reid in the Iveco, defending off Matt Summerfield for the majority of eleven laps.
British Truck Racing Championship Division 1 Race One:
- Ryan Smith (No.1 – MAN TGA 12000) = 12:43.912s
- David Jenkins (No.69 – MAN TGX 12000) = +2.205s
- Shane Brereton (No.17 – MAN TGX 12000) = +3.902s
- Stuart Oliver (No.7 – Volvo VN 13000) = +4.349s
- Simon Reid (No.89 – Iveco Stralis 13000) = +6.997s
Big Bangs on and off Track on Sunday
Once the gates opened on Sunday morning, the event got underway with all the Trucks lined up on the grid and the fans entered the circuit for a grid walk before race two for the Division 1 field. Lining up on pole position was Terry Gibbon, alongside Luke Taylor in an all MAN front row. From the lights going green, Terry Gibbon broke out into an early lead followed closely by Taylor and Mat Summerfield. On lap four though everything went wrong for Terry, as he lost the rear exiting Druids and hit the barrier hard on the run down to Graham Hill Bend. Gibbon was able to re-join at the rear of the field, as Luke Taylor inherited the lead. With Taylor out-front and being reeled in by Mat Summerfield, a charging Ryan Smith had worked his way up from row six on the grid and was now targeting second. On lap five the gap was over ten seconds but by lap fourteen the gap between the front three was under a second and Taylor was watching his rear mirrors for an attack from either Summerfield or Smith. With Smith determined to end the race second on the final lap, the champion went for a move up Hailwood Hill, resulting in contact between Summerfield and Smith and the No.84 MAN TGS 12600 ended up against the barrier and in the gravel trap at Druids. The incident allowed Luke Taylor to stroll home to his first win of the season and Smith in second. Promoted to the final podium spot was Richard Collett, comfortably ahead of Ray Coleman and Shane Brereton, who diced over fourth spot.
British Truck Racing Championship Division 1 Race Two:
- Luke Taylor (No.79 – MAN TGX 12000) = 15:37.517s
- Ryan Smith (No.1 – MAN TGA 12000) = +0.792s
- Richard Collett (No.95 – MAN TGX 11000) = +12.126s
- Ray Coleman (No.2 – MAN TG 12000) = +24.667s
- Shane Brereton (No.17 – MAN TGX 12000) = +25.047s
For the second race for the Division 2 competitors, Erik Forsstrom and Joanne Eason lined up on the front row as a result of the reverse grid, but a slow getaway from the two on the rolling start led to a frantic dash into Paddock Hill Bend and contact was inevitable for a majority of the field. Escaping from the bumping into the race lead was Simon Cole in the Mercedes chased hard by champion Mika Makinen. Mika was on a charge early on and it wasn’t long before the “Flying Finn” was leading, as Cole was passed on lap three and Makinen disappeared out front, leaving Cole in a comfortable second. With the front two positions secured if both could avoid problems, the battle behind was carnage between five trucks. John Bowler was the first to pull clear and settle into third, leaving Adam Bint to fight off Luke Garrett, Tony Smith and Steve Powell. As Garrett chased down Bint and on more than one occasion bashed body panels, a move at Druids finally paid off for the race one winner, opening the door for Smith and Powell behind. On the run down to Graham Hill Bend; Powell, Bint and Smith were three wide before Bint and Smith collected front ends. The incident resulted in a sideways spin for Bint and Smith running wide. The following lap showed that the contact between Bint and Smith had dropped a lot of oil at Graham Hill Bend and trucks departed the track left right and centre, bringing out the red flags. As the race reached three-quarters distance the chequered flag was waved with Makinen taking the win ahead of Cole, Bowler, Garret and Bint completing the top five.
British Truck Racing Championship Division 2 Race Two:
- Mika Makinen (No.71 – Sisu SL250 11000) = 9:44.733s
- Simon Cole (No.41 – Mercedes 1625 11000) = +3.706s
- John Bowler (No.14 – Foden 4×2 M11 Cummins 12000) = +19.036s
- Luke Garrett (No.42 – MAN TGA 14000) = +23.186s
- Adam Bint (No.5 – Volvo White 12000) = +24.945s
Starting from pole position for the final Division 1 race of the weekend was Dutchman Frans Smit in the “Rainbow Warrior” Scania, alongside Terry Gibbon in the MAN TGX. Once the race was underway Smit led the field, heavily under pressure from the Volvo of Stuart Oliver, who had progressed from row two along with Shane Brereton and David Jenkins. It didn’t take Oliver very long to pass Smit for the race lead and once ahead, the lap times of the ten times champion pulled him clear of the chasing pack. As Smit held second, there was a titanic scrap developing behind over third and on lap three, there were fireworks. As the chasing pack entered Surtees, Brereton and Jenkins rubbed and clashed, as the MAN TGX of Jenkins headed for the barrier after taking to the grass. Jenkins recovered to re-join at the rear of the field whilst Brereton lost third to ever competitive Ryan Smith on lap four. Once into third, it didn’t take Smith long to drop Frans Smit and the champion went quickest in his pursuit of Oliver. The rest of the race would see Smith and Oliver swap fastest laps, but the gap would only reduce to four seconds at the chequered flag. The final podium spot would be taken by Shane Brereton on lap nine, as both he and Mat Summerfield dropped Smit down to fifth before finally ending up ninth. There was further drama in the closing stages of the race as contact between competitors saw Summerfield slip down the order to seventh behind Coleman, Collett and Taylor. When the race concluded the stewards excluded Shane Brereton and Mat Summerfield from the result under MSA section C1.1.5 for Driving in a manner incompatible with general safety, removing Brereton from third and Summerfield from seventh.
British Truck Racing Championship Division 1 Race Three:
- Stuart Oliver (No.7 – Volvo VN 13000) = 12:07.963s
- Ryan Smith (No.1 – MAN TGA 12000) = +4.903s
- Ray Coleman (No.2 – MAN TG 12000) = +25.628s
- Richard Collett (No.95 – MAN TGX 11000) = +25.754s
- Luke Taylor (No.79 – MAN TGX 12000) = +26.248s
In the final Division 2 race and the timetable slightly against them, a first lap incident didn’t help matters as the red flag was deployed early on and recovery trucks were on circuit. For the first restart, race control stated that this was last chance for the drivers and from pole position; Paul “Paddy” McCumisky led the field away and looked in control. That was until the field reached Druids and yet again there was an incident bringing out the red flag. Paul McCumisky lined the field up for what would be the final-final attempt to complete a five-minute sprint to the chequered flag. McCumisky led away well on the second restart and controlled proceedings. Lying second throughout was Brad Smith but at the chequered flag, Smith was demoted to fourth due to exceeding track limits and handed second to Mika Makinen, as the Finn overhauled Tony Smith on the final lap, for what seemed to be the final podium position.
British Truck Racing Championship Division 2 Race Three:
- Paul McCumisky (No.99 – Volvo FM12 12000) = 5:28.266s
- Mika Makinen (No.71 – Sisu SL250 11000) = +2.152s
- Tony Smith (No.46 – Sisu SL250 11000) = +2.551s
- Brad Smith (No.16 – DAF CF 11000) = +6.569s
- James Aitkenhead (No.8 – Sisu SL250 14000) = +13.212s
Before the spectacular fireworks display would light up the night sky at Brands Hatch, the action would conclude with the grand final for the Trucks, combining the Division 1 and Division 2 fields. Twenty trucks would take to the track and with light fading they lined up in reverse championship order, meaning Ryan Smith would be last in Division 1. When the race got underway, Simon Reid made the most of the rolling start to lead the field, ahead of a chasing Terry Gibbon and Luke Taylor. Reid held onto the lead for the opening few laps but a mistake at clearways and a run through the gravel trap handed the lead to Taylor before the race two winner retired a few laps later and Gibbon led on lap ten. Pilling the pressure on Gibbon throughout the race had been Matt Summerfield but in the final stages a superb drive from Ryan Smith saw the champion challenging for second. In a lap to remember, Smith went from third to first on lap twelve and once ahead never looked back, even controlling things in comfort when lapping the slower Division 2 trucks. Smith would take the win by over four seconds, ahead of Terry Gibbon and Mat Summerfield. In the Division 2 category, the season finale was won by Luke Garrett, ahead of Steve Powell and champion Mika Makinen, down in eighth, ninth and tenth overall.
British Truck Racing Championship Grand Final
- Ryan Smith (No.1 – MAN TGA 12000) = 15:16.555s
- Terry Gibbon (No.37 – MAN TGS 18.480 12000) = +4.315s
- Mat Summerfield (No.84 – MAN TGS 12600) = +5.142s
- Stuart Oliver (No.7 – Volvo VN 13000) = +5.598s
- Ray Coleman (No.2 – MAN TG 12000) = +13.452s
In terms of the driver championships, the top five in Division 1 and Division 2 ended as follows:
- Ryan Smith (No.1 – MAN TGA 12000) = 261 Pts.
- Stuart Oliver (No.7 – Volvo VN 13000) = 210 Pts.
- David Jenkins (No.69 – MAN TGX 12000) = 197 Pts.
- Shane Brereton (No.17 – MAN TGX 12000) = 196 Pts.
- Mat Summerfield (No.84 – MAN TGS 12600) = 178 Pts.
- Mika Makinen (No.71 – Sisu SL250 11000) = 259 Pts.
- Tony Smith (No.46 – Sisu SL250 11000) = 186 Pts.
- Simon Cole (No.41 – Mercedes 1625 11000) = 154 Pts.
- Adam Bint (No.5 – Volvo White 12000) = 152 Pts.
- Steven Powell (No.3 – ERF EC1 13000) = 141 Pts.
To keep up to date with news over the winter regarding the 2018 British Truck Racing championship season and to see the full racing calendar, we recommend you check out: https://www.btrc.co/.
For more photos from the Truck Racing finale, please click here.
Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs.