ACTION PACKED – BLUE SKY PEMBREY
Last weekend 23rd/24th April was the team’s first of two trips of the year to the home of Welsh motorsport at Pembrey circuit Nr Llanelli South Wales. When the team arrived on Friday evening the heavens were open and things looked set for at best a very damp weekend. On Saturday morning it was all change the rain clouds had gone and the sun was drying out the track very fast.
Because the team had decided not to participate in the Friday test session, the twenty minute qualifying session was to be the first outing to both test the trucks and also qualify for race one.
Stuart went straight out and immediately set a time that would in past times put him easily in pole position, unfortunately he was pipped by less than one tenth of one second, fortunately still securing a front row place on the grid for race one. Shane secured a very commendable time to secure sixth fastest spot putting him on the third row of the grid. Michael, in his first ever race participation at Pembrey managed to secure a well-earned and respectable eleventh overall within a field of nineteen trucks.
The first race of the weekend early on the Saturday afternoon was set to be a challenge for all, as the race officials had laid down the law to all drivers that track limits and driving standards had to be improved and adhered by all at all times, this basically meant the black bit (the track) is for racing and the green (the grass) is only to be driven on after the event by the circuits grass cutting machinery!
Race 1, the track conditions were perfect, all three team drivers and trucks were ready as always the race started from a rolling start. As the lights went green Stuart’s truck during an up-shift his gearbox went into a false neutral resulting in him having no high gear for the whole of the race restricting his top speed down to 80 mph and not up to the limit of 100mph. He dropped down the order but still salvaged a seventh place finish. Shane had a flying start and an all action packed race and moved up the order to cross the line in fourth place less than half a second behind third place. Michael also had an action packed race and moved up a few places and found himself exchanging places with Stuart many times and eventually crossing the line in eighth place overall only seven tenths of a second behind Stuart.
Post-race the whole team worked hard to carry out the normal pre-race preparation work as well as remove and fit a replacement gearbox into Stuart’s truck.
Race 2, Stuart and Michael were on the front of the class A grid, Shane was starting from the second to back row, things were all set for an exciting race, unfortunately on the out lap Stuart’s trucks clutch linkage failed and left him with no clutch operation, meaning on the grid he had to start the truck in-gear with the starter motor! On the rolling start Michael had control of the start and when the lights went out both went into the first corner side by side with Stuart exiting ahead but slower than normal due to having a much slower gear change than normal. This however did not seem to impede his performance in the early stages as he had control of the race, in the closing stages of the race when he caught up to lap the backmarkers the requirement to make more (slower) gear changes to overtake allowed two other Class A trucks to catch in the closing laps and overtake leaving Stuart to cross the line in third place overall. Shane had a strong challenge and managed to move up the field to cross the line in fifth. Michael did not disappoint by posting faster and faster laps and crossing the line in eleventh overall.
Race 3, Sunday morning with blue skies and the sun again shining high in the sky, Michael was on the front of the start grid, Shane back on row four and Stuart on row five. When the lights went out both Stuart and Shane made lightning starts then halfway around lap one Stuart was pushed wide and off track dropping him to the back of the pack, without delay he started the charge again up through the rankings and by mid-race found himself up into seventh. After an overambitious manoeuvre up front that resulted in the three front running trucks having an off track excursion. Stuart managed to avoid the incident and move up into second a position he held until the chequered flag. Shane was not so fortunate in the incident and got held up resulting in him not having the fortune Stuart enjoyed but still managed to cross the finish line in a well-deserved fifth place. Michael once again improved further his lap times and managed to avoided trouble, crossing the line in tenth overall.
Race 4, second truck race of the day the team was needing a win. Michael was on the front of the grid Shane was on row three and Stuart was up at the back. As always each start at each event gets faster and closer and race three was no exception. When the lights went out Michael was off “like a shot” Shane went fast down and around the outside, Stuart went through the middle, at the breaking point for turn one Stuarts truck was hit by an out of control truck lifting the rear axle into the air and sending him down the grass towards the trucks ahead turning right of him. In a swift manor Stuart got his truck straight and managed to get rid of enough speed to turn and avoid any contact with the charging pack. It soon became apparent though that unfortunately his truck had suffered a rear wheel blow-out when he was initially hit. Stuart however is not one for giving up and he continued to pick off the trucks ahead and finally managing to secure a well deserved third by the chequered flag. Shane’s outside flying start paid off, he avoided any contact and soon gained control of the pace that allowed him to settle into a routine that gave him his FIRST EVER TRUCK RACE WIN. Michael also had a commendable race, finishing in his best place in his short race career crossing the line in eighth overall. The whole team were delighted with race four’s results; Shane and Stuart on the podium with first and third respective and Michael eighth.
Race 5, the last race of the weekend and the large crowd that had attended were not going to be disappointed with the action. Michael was starting on row two of the grid, Stuart on row four and Shane on row five. As expected the race started at lighting speed with over one hundred tonnes of race trucks heading to turn one at 100mph. Michael managed to stay out of trouble and hold his position on the opening laps. Shane stayed close to the pack and out of trouble, Stuart after turn one was pushed off wide and had to re-join at the back. By mid race Michael was holding on to a good mid-field position, Shane was cutting through the opposition and Stuart was hot on his tail. In the closing last few laps Michael was in a battle for the last scoring position in the race. On the last lap during a overtaking manoeuvre he suffered contact that pushed him wide leaving him to finish in eleventh overall. Shane was hungry for more silverware and worked is way up to third with Stuart in forth less than three hundredths of one second behind him over the finish line.
In summary all at TEAM OLIVER RACING are delighted with the team performance and race results at Pembrey and are looking forward to the next round held at the high speed Thruxton circuit in Hampshire on 11th 12th June.
Note; Don’t miss the TV coverage of the first round of the BTRC at Brands Hatch first of many, shown on Sky’s MOTORS TV channel on the evening of Wednesday 27th April.