Team Oliver Racing’s – Three Brands Surprise !
Team Oliver Racing started the new season at Brands Hatch over the Easter Weekend 26th 27th 28th March in fine style – three drivers, three different race truck brands! Stuart Oliver fighting once again for the British Truck Race Championship title behind the wheel of his trusty VOLVO RH-13, last year’s newcomer Shane Brereton testing his skills with his new MAN TGX and a surprise race entry by Stuart’s son Michael Oliver in the Scania P1150, starting out his task to follow in his father’s footsteps.
For the first time in many years the A and B class race trucks competed separately, entertaining the spectators in 10 action packed and very exciting truck races on Easter Sunday and Monday.
The weekend started brilliantly for Team Oliver with all three race trucks in the top ten in Saturday´s qualifying session. Stuart Oliver managed to hold off stiff competition to achieve the fastest time and subsequently pole position for race one. Shane Brereton showed real ambition in his new machine securing third place on the grid and Michael Oliver didn’t disappoint in his first ever qualifying session and managed to secure a very respectable tenth position on the grid in what could only be described as very tricky, wet and slippery conditions.
The first race showed that Stuart will once again have a hard season up against a number of competitors all vying for the top spot. After two aborted starts that saw Shane and Steven Powell run of the track at druids, a slight loss in traction by Stuart’s number 7 machine on the climb of Halewood’s Hill allowed Summerfield the first win of the season. Stuart, with an excellent display of control, despite the terrible English weather conditions came over the line in a close second, holding off a growing group of trucks, including David Jenkins, Ryan Smith and Steve Thomas. Shane had an excellent start but found himself in the gravel after a busy push going into turn 2, causing a red flag situation to stop the race. On the restart he had to re-join at the rear of the pack, but managed to fight his way up to an impressive 7th place finish! Michael had a tough 1st race of the weekend and his race career. In horrendous weather conditions and three restarts, he managed to bring his silver Scania over the finish line in 10th place despite the best efforts from a number of old hands to try and pass the newcomer, thus scoring his first ever British Truck Racing Championship point!
The second ‘A’ class race of the weekend started as per the regulations in reverse grid order with Michael starting from the front row of the grid (because of the poor weather conditions a very daunting place to be even for an experienced racer). During the race Michael managed to hold his own and bring the truck over the finish line unscathed. Shane also had a promising start but in the closing laps of the race caught a high curb sending him crashing out hard into a tyre wall at the entrance to Clearways bringing a red flag end to the race. Stuart started from the back row of the grid. During the race he worked through the field and managed to hold off tough competition to win the race and take the lead of the championship after the 1st day of racing.
Easter Monday morning saw the ‘A’ class race three get underway with Michael again on the front of the grid and Shane on the back due to his non race finish in the previous day’s race. Alongside him was Stuart who was at the back due to his previous day’s race win. For this race the weather was kind and the sun was shining. Michael again did not crack under the pressure and held his own for a number of laps, keeping the Scania on the racing line and making it no easy task for the charging pack to overtake. Shane and Stuart both started the race in fine style immediately making headway up through the pack and by mid race Shane was up to seventh position which he went on to hold to the finish line. Stuart had made his way up to fourth position when he realised that he was losing power and his engine was overheating this forced him to ease off the power and bring the Volvo home in fourth place. Once back in the pits it was found that the cause of the overheat was a puncture to the radiator.
‘A’ class race four saw again Michael up on the front of the grid. Shane was to start in the middle of the grid and Stuart on the second to back row, with again a dry track the pace was to be flat out. On the green light Michael was off the line in great Team Oliver style and as previously he did not give an inch to the charging pack. Unfortunately due to a cooling fan failure he had to retire mid-race to save causing terminal engine damage. Shane also had a lightening start cutting through the pack and by mid race was up into third place. In the closing laps he managed to skilfully manoeuvre his truck into the runner up spot only 1.936 seconds behind the race winner. Stuart also worked up the order having very stiff opposition to impede his progress but eventually securing a hard earned fifth place finish.
The final and fifth ‘A’ class race of the weekend was to be as expected a very action packed race. This time Michael was starting on the back row due to his non finish of the previous race. Shane was to start from the second to back row with Stuart one row in front. On a dry track, the opening lap going into Paddock Hill bend saw Stuart make a top class manoeuvre avoiding what turned out to be a five truck pile-up putting him into 3rd place. Unfortunately, due to two of the trucks beaching in the gravel on the first bend the red flags came out and the recovery trucks were deployed to recover the stranded trucks. The restart saw all the trucks lined up again on the grid in the original grid position, again the race started, this time also on the opening lap at Druids, the second corner, two of the same trucks involved in the first stop came together yet again ending in the tyre wall causing a second red flag race stop. After the recovery teams finished for a second time all trucks went onto the grid again. The third start was to be very different as the heavens had opened during the second stoppage causing the track conditions to change from good and dry to very wet and greasy. With all Team Oliver trucks set-up for dry conditions and the regulations not allowing any set up changes under a red flag stop, the race ahead was to be a hand full for the drivers and entertaining to the watching audience. This time when the race got under way Stuart was off the line and displaying for all to see his ability to drive his truck on the limit of grip to move up to the lead of the race by lap four. He went on to maintain his lead until the chequered flag making him the only double race winner over the weekend and more importantly putting him two points ahead in the championship. Shane worked hard in the difficult conditions to finish ninth with Michael also pushing to the limit crossing the line only two places back.
Stuart said; “he was delighted with the performance of the team, both on and off the track. To run successfully a three truck team is not easy, it is a great pleasure to see all who are involved working successfully together”.
The team are now working hard to prepare the trucks ready the next British Truck Racing Championship event on 23rd 24th April at Pembery, South Wales.