PLENTY OF ACTION IN THE SUN AT DONINGTON
Last weekend 23rd/24th July TEAM OLIVER RACING attended the fifth round of the British Truck Racing Championship event at the world famous and home of truck racing, Donington Park in Leicestershire.
The weather forecasters had hedged their bets with a changeable forecast. Fortunately when the sun came up on Saturday morning it was there to be seen all day resulting in a clear blue sky day; with Sunday being very similar, this helped to bring spectators through the gate to reach close on record attendance numbers. Donington Park is the closest to home for the team and many of our sponsors so it was a great opportunity for the team to entertain a large number of sponsors, guests, family and friends.
Because of the action packed race programme Stuart, Shane and Michael did not get the opportunity to test their trucks around the high speed and very technical Leicestershire circuit prior to the qualification session. Stuart and Shane had the advantage of previously racing at the circuit, Michael had to make do with a trip around on a push bike on Friday evening.
Following the previous race at the Nurburgring Stuart and the team had made many changes to the rear axle configuration on his VOLVO and the qualification was to be the first test. In the short fifteen-minute session Stuart managed to secure fourth overall, only three tenths off the pole position time, Shane secured sixth and Michael tenth place on the start grid for the first race.
Race one of the five Class A races of the weekend got underway shortly after lunch on Saturday to then be stopped straight away by a Red-Flag due to a truck becoming beached in the gravel at Redgate corner. After a quick re-grid all the trucks got underway in the usual Truck Racing way, when the dust settled and the loose body panels landed the action then continued throughout, with Stuart finishing fourth overall, Shane sixth and Michael ninth.
Prior to race two Stuart and his team had made many set-up changes to both his and Michael’s trucks. When the race got underway the set-up changes immediately became apparent were correct, as Stuart who started in the middle of the grid was by the end of lap one at the front leading the race with Michael not far behind in second. Shane also had a good start and also had made his way forward through the pack. Stuart was in a position to control the race and lap by lap he pulled ahead of the rest to cross the line and win the race with a very comfortable lead. Shane fought hard all race and after a couple of forced excursions off track managed to cross the finish line in fifth, Michael held his own among the pack and finished in eighth overall. Resulting in all three TEAM OLIVER RACING trucks crossing the line within the top ten.
Sunday morning race three got underway in front of again a large number of spectators, when the lights went out on the rolling start Stuart made a move up the inside unfortunately was then pushed out wide towards the pit wall thus causing the truck in front to lose control, spin and stop on track to instigate the second Red-Flag stoppage of the weekend. Once the trucks were lined up back on the grid the race got underway again. This time Shane from a mid-place on the grid had a clear, trouble free start allowing him to get away and take an early lead, Stuart unfortunately got pushed wide at the top of the 100MPH Craner Curves and had to make a detour down the grass and re-join at the Old Hairpin at the very back of the pack. Michael managed to stay clear of trouble and move one by one up the field. At mid-race Shane was still at the front, Stuart was now up to and behind Michael. At the start of the last lap Shane was still leading the race, Stuart was fourth and Michael sixth, things were looking good for the best team result of the season until on the approach to Redgate Corner. The driver in second position “missed his brake point” and in doing so pushed Shane off into the gravel trap to result in a none finish, this hollowly moved Stuart up to third over the finish line and Michael to his best ever race career finish of fifth place overall.
The second truck race on the Sunday was obviously going to be a nail biting one due to the tension built up from the previous race. Shane was starting at the back of the reverse grid with Stuart alongside, with Michael starting only one row forward. When the lights went out on the rolling start Stuart was off in signature style immediately working through the pack, managing to avoid any contact. Shane and Michael also made good progress; throughout the whole race positions were exchanged. By the closing stages, Stuart had worked to get to the front and go on to win the race in style with a clear lead of more than four and a half seconds. Shane crossed the finish line in a respectable seventh and Michael in ninth place.
The fifth and last championship point’s truck race of the day was as expected to be a hard challenge as historically all drivers want to win the last race. On the grid Stuart was at the back Shane two rows in front and Michael on the second row. The race started with nineteen drivers all wanting to get around the first corner first, after the dust settled Stuart had been pushed out wide Shane and Michael had both encountered contact with a dislodged tyre from a front row truck. At mid-race the close action was still happening, Shane unfortunately developed an engine cooling problem due to radiator damage, Michael was going well albeit with various panels and bodywork missing, Stuart recovered from his excursion and was working towards the front of the pack. Unfortunately by the chequered flag he had only made it up to fourth place with Michael behind in fifth place and Shane limping over the line in seventh.
The last race of the weekend the “Donington Park Truck Grand Final” was not for championship points, but never the less, not less important. Unfortunately the damage to Shane’s truck in the previous race was unable to be rectified in time for the start. Stuart and Michael both started on the second to back row of the grid, not wanting to encounter any further damage the start was slightly more gentle than previous. The speed and action was no less exciting with plenty of overtaking throughout, at the finish line Stuart was third overall and Michael scored his personal best race career result of fourth place.
Overall Stuart and the team were happy with the race results over the weekend and are now preparing all the trucks for the next round of the championship at Silverstone on 13th/14th August.