No Stopping Smith!
Four wins as he piles up the points at Pembrey.
Ryan Smith continued his storming start to the 2018 season – the Division One Championship leader again showing his rivals a clean pair of heels as he claimed an impressive four wins and one runner-up spot in Round 2 of the 2018 BTRA Championship.
Pembrey circuit certainly proved to be a happy hunting ground for the MAN driver (this time competing in his latest European Championship challenger) – on the pace straight from the Qualifying where he secured pole position with a best time of 1m. 10.433s – over half a second clear of nearest rival, David Jenkins with Stuart Oliver claiming third quickest time.
The action was fast and furious right from the start of the opening race – held in glorious spring sunshine on Saturday.
Smith took an early lead and eventually cruised home to win by a comfortable margin of over three seconds while everyone else scrapped for second.
Jenks was initially looking strong and set the fastest lap early in the race – but he eventually dropped back to fourth leaving Oliver and the increasingly rapid Jamie Anderson to claim the remaining podium places.
The Pembrey grass banks were packed again for the second Div. One race on Sunday morning – when the track conditions were a bit greasy with some light rain making lap times some three seconds slower.
Smith soon overcame his ‘Reverse Grid’ handicap and fought his way through to the front and once again topped the podium – chased home by Jenkins with Oliver fending off Anderson to finish third. Simon Reid was right in the mix with the MAN pack to bring his Iveco home a fine fifth with Richard Collett pleased to claim sixth after running at the back in the previous outing.
The third Division One race was a short but spectacular affair… the main problem being a major pile-up as Oliver collected his team-mate Martin Gibson after hitting oil while overtaking – both Summerfield and Collett then getting clipped as machinery went spinning across the grass in all directions.
Despite the official results being posted after just four racing laps Smith had still got through to the front to complete his hat-trick with Jenkins again in the runner-up spot – just 0.168s in front of the speedy Simon Reid. Anderson was again running strongly to get fourth – with Luke Taylor bringing his MAN next across the line.
The fourth race again saw red flags coming out and ending the action prematurely… but the action up front had been closely contested once more. This time Jenkins held on to claim the win – shadowed home by Smith (just 0.217s. behind at the line).
Third place fell to Summerfield in his rapidly repaired MAN – some nine second behind the leading duo – but the blue MAN’s mirrors were full of Anderson’s image with these two separated by just 1.5 seconds with fifth placed Taylor similarly close. Collett completed the top six.
Oliver had missed race four – hardly surprising considering the major damage he’d sustained in the previous race. But his team worked miracles to rebuild his Volvo (including welding the broken front axle) to have him back in action – and running at the sharp end – in the final race of the day. He claimed a fighting third – just 0.4265 seconds ahead of the flying Jenkins – who posted the fastest lap of the weekend (1m.11.117s / 73.7mph) on his way to fourth.
Up front Smith was dominant – pulling over 8 seconds clear on his way to win number four…and surviving a real scare when lapping Craig Reid who unintentionally turned across the leaders MAN through a high speed turn. The contact was substantial enough to lift the rear of the Iveco way clear of the ground – but Smith’s MAN appeared to emerge with only panel damage.
Anderson ended a weekend of some forceful and effective competition by powering through to second position – 1.2 seconds in front of Oliver and the chasing pack.
Double wins for Garrett & Powell as ‘Rookie’ Craig Reid makes winning debut
Luke Garrett (MAN) continued his strong start to the season – further extending his lead in the BTRA Division Two standings with a pair of Pembrey wins.
Steve Powell also scored a Sunday ‘double’ – his victories making up for the disappointment of a non-start for his MAN the previous day.
But the real news of the weekend came in the shape of a shock win for ‘Rookie’ Craig Reid (younger brother of former champ Simon) – making a stunning debut in his all-new Iveco.
In Qualifying it was Simon Cole who set the pace for the Division 2 field – his Mercedes posting a best time 0.9 seconds quicker than Garrett could manage. The two Johns – Bowler (Foden) and Powell (DAF) filled the second row of the grid for race one.
Like the Division One drivers, the Division Two competitors had just the one race on sunny Saturday.
From the rolling start Cole charged into an early lead – already 0.4s clear at the end lap one. But the Merc then spun at Hatchets Hairpin – and rejoined down in sixth. Cole was really on the charge and then picked his way through the field – posting fastest lap as he finally fought his way up to second as the chequered flag fell.
Garrett had inherited the lead on lap 2 – but soon he had John Powell’s DAF breathing down his neck – and by lap 3 the positions were reversed.
Lap six saw Powell holding an advantage of over two seconds – but then Garrett started to reel him back in…
On lap nine Garrett retook the lead – and Powell now had a big white Merc looming large in his mirrors and on the last of the 12 tours Cole got by and John had to settle for third spot on the podium.
Garrett held on for victory… still four seconds clear of Cole at the flag.
Mid-race Brad Smith finally got the better of fast-starting Bowler –and finally came home in fourth with Craig Reid collecting a very respectable fifth in his very first race.
Adam Bint cruised in an uncharacteristically lowly 8th (two laps adrift) – but he was nursing the Volvo White with a damaged differential… which meant some long hours of rebuilding for the team.
In the four Sunday races the Division 2 trucks ran together with the much faster Division 1 machinery – which made for a full grid and the occasional ‘interesting’ moment!
We had a new name on the top step of the Division 2 podium at the end of Sunday’s race 2; Craig Reid. Making good use of the ‘Reverse Grid’ the newcomer immediately headed the Div.2 pack away from the rolling start – and despite having Garrett’s MAN shadowing him closely for almost the entire 8 laps Craig maintained his composure (and pace) to take his super-smart Iveco to the chequered flag…just 0.352s splitting the pair on the line.
Cole was also in close company with the leaders for much of the race on his way to finishing third. Team-mates Brad Smith and John Powell completed the top five in the category.
In Race 3 there wasn’t much time to shuffle the Div.2 pack from their original grid positions – results issued after just 3 laps following the red flag.
Steve Powell had seemingly got his MAN running better and took the early lead – holding off his brother John and Bowler to take the class win. Garrett and Cole had both made places in the early stages and were running strongly in fourth and fifth respectively when the stoppage came.
Race 4 saw a rejuvenated Bint initially heading the Div.2 pack – and he was quite spectacular in defending his track position from considerably more powerful machines… for a while.
Craig Reid and Bowler soon got ahead – and then had a close fight for about half a lap… until Bowler totally misjudged his attack under braking into the hairpin – sending Reid’s Iveco spinning and Bowler also losing many places as he went grasstracking!
That left Cole in front for three laps – until Garrett took over a lead he then held all the way to the chequered flag.
Brad Smith, John Powell and Steve Powell all overhauled Bint – and with Cole falling back in the second part of the race that trio finally occupied second through to fourth respectively with Bint hanging on for fifth fractions ahead of the recovering Reid.
Steve Powell got a flyer at the start of the final race and was soon the leading Div. 2 runner – while Bowler initially held off Reid and Garrett.
But these two soon got through and had a lengthy and entertaining scarp for second while Powell stayed cool out in front.
But with less than three laps remaining Garrett grabbed second as Reid slid wide – and then Powell’s lead was cut from over a second to under half a second with one lap to run. Garrett piled on the pressure (and posted fastest lap of the race) – but Powell had every move covered and the pair flashed over the finishing line, just 0.21s. apart after nearly 17 minutes of competition!
With Reid retiring on lap 11 the final podium spot went to John Powell, closely followed home by Bowler and Brad Smith… the last of surviving five runners.
Next stop: Nurburgring, Germany – June 30 / July 1 / 2
Round 3 of the 2018 BTRA British Truck Racing Championship