For the final event of the 2017 BTRA British Truck Racing Championship the trucks descended on Brands Hatch in Kent, where there were plenty of fireworks on – and off – the track.
It didn’t take Ryan Smith long to destroy the opposition in the final event of the season. The reigning champion arrived at Brands Hatch with one hand firmly gripping the title crown – and by the time the packed grid exited the first corner it was all over bar the shouting.
Smith qualified in second spot on the grid for the first Saturday outing and with the top four – Shane Brereton, Smith, Stuart Oliver and David Jenkins – covered by under 7/10ths of a second the scene was set for some close competition.
But from the rolling start of the opening race Smith simply drove around the outside of pole man Brereton – emerging from the slippery Paddock Hill bend in a lead he was never to lose.
A determined Jenkins took six laps to fight his way past Oliver and three laps later overhauled Brereton for second – but Smith was long gone as he collected the winner’s trophy and enough points to secure the BTRA Division One crown for the second year in succession.
The Mansfield-based MAN driver was in dominant form again on Sunday, despite being handicapped with the ‘reverse grid’ format coming into play. Rampaging Ryan clinched two runner-up spots, chasing home winners Luke Taylor (MAN) and Stuart Oliver, whose result ensured he took the runner-up spot in the championship with his Volvo.
In the Grand Final race there was no stopping Smith; starting from the back of the pack he charged through to the front to end the 2017 season with yet another brilliant win.
Despite low temperatures the on-track action was red hot all weekend – with a number of incidents attracting official attention and seeing penalties imposed.
The huge Brands Hatch crowd certainly saw some spectacular moments, which included the amazing sight of Brereton’s MAN mounting the rear of Ray Coleman’s similar machine on the main straight at 100mph!
The two trucks stayed locked together for almost half a lap – including negotiating the tricky Paddock Hill bend at high speed! Possibly the most bizarre ‘towing’ job that Coleman – boss of Lantern Recovery – has ever undertaken.
Sisu one-two in Division Two
The four highly entertaining BTRA Division 2 outings were as fiercely contested as ever and brought one win apiece for champion Mika Makinen (Sisu) and Paul McCumisky (Volvo) and a double for Luke Garrett (MAN).
Makinen already had the title sewn up at Pembrey three weeks before, but the Finn kept piling up the points with four podium finishes.
Tony Smith made it a Sisu one-two in the championship – the Kent driver picking up strong second and third place results on his home track.
Another Brands ‘local’ – Dartford-based Simon Cole – had four strong finishes in his mighty Merc to secure third overall in the championship. Cole pipped 2016 champion Adam Bint by one just point. The unfortunate Bint lost the chance to gain valuable points when his Volvo White got wiped out in a ferocious third race – and he was unable to run in the final.
Steve Powell finished the season strongly and sneaked into fifth overall by a single point thanks to a storming drive to second in the final, out-scoring McCumisky, who struggled home ninth, having won the previous outing.
2017 BTRA British Truck Racing Championship
Division 1 (note: provisional standings only, pending outcome of appeal over Snetterton results)
1) Ryan Smith
2) Stuart Oliver
3) David Jenkins
4) Shane Brereton
5) Mat Summerfield
6) Ray Coleman
7) Terry Gibbon
8) Michael Oliver
9) Oly Janes
10) Luke Taylor
11) Simon Reid
12) Richard Collett
13) Frans Smit
Division 2 (final standings)
1) Mika Makinen 259
2) Tony Smith 186
3) Simon Cole 153
4) Adam Bint 152
5) Steve Powell 141
6) Paul McCumisky 140
7) John Bowler 138
8) Luke Garrett 136
9) Bradley Smith 98
10) Trevor Martin 85
11) John Powell 62
12) Sami Ojanen 51
13) Jim Bennett 36
14) Joanne Eason 29
15) Frans Smit 27
Words & image: Jonathan Reeves