TRUCK AND TREAT: BIG RIGS ROCK BRANDS HATCH

Motor Sport News - - Historics -

Com­ing into the sea­son fi­nale Ryan Smith only needed a sin­gle point to claim his sec­ond Bri­tish Truck Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship ti­tle in as many years.

Ri­val Stu­art Oliver was math­e­mat­i­cally in con­tention but his chances were ex­tremely slim as he needed to win all four races, with Smith fail­ing to score at all, to claim the ti­tle. Come race one Smith made it clear that he was not go­ing to play it safe and, start­ing from sec­ond on the grid, he went around the out­side of pole­sit­ter Shane Br­ere­ton as the pack stormed through Pad­dock Hill Bend and be­gan to open up the gap in an ef­fort to se­cure the ti­tle as early as pos­si­ble. His strat­egy worked out per­fectly and a win in the first of four races sched­uled for the week­end al­lowed the Mans­field-based driver to cel­e­brate the ti­tle on Satur­day.

De­spite be­ing crowned cham­pion, Smith’s take-no­pris­on­ers’ at­ti­tude didn’t change on Sun­day and the 36-year-old pro­duced a stel­lar drive from the back of the grid to sec­ond with a late com­ing to­gether with Mat Sum­mer­field re­sult­ing in the lat­ter bury­ing his truck in the gravel on the out­side of Druids, with race win go­ing to Luke Tay­lor. Oliver claimed a win in race three of the week­end, with Smith claim­ing the last race of the meet­ing as well as of the BTRC sea­son – the Grand Fi­nal fea­tur­ing a grid com­prised of trucks be­long­ing to both di­vi­sions.

“Two-time cham­pion now, it feels great,” said the de­lighted Smith. “I have all my spon­sors, all my fam­ily and friends here. The spec­ta­tors have been bril­liant. Brands Hatch put on a good event. I’m very, very happy – it’s fan­tas­tic.”

In Divi­sion 2 Mika Maki­nen se­cured his ti­tle prior to the sea­son fi­nale, but put his Sisu truck on pole adding to his dom­i­nance this sea­son. The Finn was in con­trol in the race that was red-flagged twice but ul­ti­mately lost out on the sec­ond restart and came third, be­hind race win­ner Luke Gar­rett and Tony Smith. Maki­nen how­ever won in the sec­ond of the Divi­sion 2 races held on Sun­day with the re­main­ing two wins go­ing to Paul Mc­cumisky and Luke Gar­rett (win­ner in the com­bined class race).

Three races a day and grid sizes ex­ceed­ing 30 cars is a recipe for a thrilling spec­ta­cle and such was the case with the Le­gends Cham­pi­onship. Stephen White­legg won twice while Guy Fas­tres, Will Gib­son, Se­bastien Kluyskens and Con­nor Mills all took a win each, but it was John Mickel who, thanks to a streak of con­sis­tent re­sults over the course of the week­end (10th, 11th, 10th, fourth, sixth, eighth re­spec­tively), se­cured the ti­tle.

Mills’ drive in the third fi­nal of Satur­day’s races caught the most at­ten­tion. The for­mer For­mula Ford racer was the class of the field in damp con­di­tions and, fol­low­ing a start from the back end of the grid, made it all the way up to sev­enth by lap four and had a sniff of a vic­tory un­til a trip through the gravel at Clear­ways put him on the back foot. The 20-year-old ul­ti­mately fin­ished fourth.

The one-off ap­pear­ance of Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship reg­u­lar An­drew Jor­dan was the big talk­ing point of the Pickup Truck Rac­ing Cham­pi­onship and in­deed the 2013 BTCC cham­pion stole the show. In race one Jor­dan came home sec­ond fol­low­ing a start from the very back, pres­suris­ing his for­mer BTCC ri­val Lea Wood for the win in the clos­ing stages. In race two Jor­dan took a light­sto-flag vic­tory pro­duc­ing a bril­liant dis­play of de­fen­sive driv­ing, keep­ing his ri­vals at bay while deal­ing with en­gine is­sues. “It was re­ally hard, I had a mis­fire from lap two,” said Jor­dan, who didn’t put a wheel wrong in all week­end, de­spite never raced a pickup be­fore. “I was very vul­ner­a­ble, I was hav­ing a mis­fire in the cor­ners so I was just try­ing to get off the cor­ners well and de­fend where I needed to. It was some good, hard rac­ing. I loved it.”

It was a bit­ter week­end for Rod Bir­ley who came into the week­end with a prospect of beat­ing or at least equalling the record of 625 race wins in club rac­ing. It started not too bad with a third place and win in Tin Tops.

In Mod­i­fied Sa­loons, Bir­ley won race one but then had a com­ing to­gether with Gra­ham Crowhurst af­ter the che­quered flag and was kept overnight in hos­pi­tal for ob­ser­va­tion. Andy Ban­ham took the glory in race two. A sec­ond place and a win in was enough for Mal­colm Black­man to se­cure the In­ter­mar­que ti­tle.

Smith needed just a point to take crown

Black­man (l) scored two podi­ums to clinch In­ter­mar­que glory Mark Willis suf­fered this spin dur­ing Brands Pickup Truck race

Fisher leads the hotly-con­tested Tin Tops field

White­legg won twice,but Mickel still claimed ti­tle

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