Over the Easter weekend the first round of the 2019 British Truck Racing Championship got underway at the prestigious Brands Hatch race circuit in Kent. For this opening round Team Oliver Racing chose to only run the teams outstanding satin-black VOLVO VNL race truck with Stuart at the wheel.
When the team arrived at the circuit on the Saturday morning to prepare for the Sunday and Monday race programme, it was a concern that due to some recent in-house engine modifications the performance of the VOLVO was uncertain.
On the Sunday morning underneath an unusually bright clear sky the race trucks went out for a fifteen-minute session to qualify for grid positions for race one. It was clear from the outset that the recent engine modifications on the VOLVO had greatly improved its performance from that of 2018. During the short session Stuart made several visits to the pit lane to allow the team to make suspension adjustments ultimately to accommodate the improved engine performance. At the end of the qualification session Stuart had managed to secure a very respectful third fastest lap time.
On Sunday afternoon race one got underway with the sun still shining bright and warm. With no delay Stuart was hot on the tail of the two trucks ahead and throughout the race he managed to keep up the pressure. Unfortunately at the chequered flag he had to settle for third place on the podium.
During Sunday evening the team made a few more truck set up changes in preparation for race two on the Monday morning. Again the sun was out as Stuart started the race from the second to back row of the grid. When the red lights went out Stuart executed a text book race start and very soon began overtaking one by one, the pack of trucks ahead of him. By mid-race he was at the front and began pulling out a commendable lead and at the chequered flag Stuart had gained a gap to second place of more than twelve seconds.
Just prior to the start of the third race the drivers were informed that a new race start format was to be adopted which meant that the drivers start positions would be made up from the second fastest time posted in the qualification session. Stuart was very disappointed at this last minute change his view has always been that one of the main spectacles of truck racing is the reverse grid format that, in Stuart’s words, sorts out the fast drivers from the race drivers. Nevertheless, the race got underway and as predicted became a procession throughout until the chequered flag. Stuart finished where, he started in third place.
Towards the end of the day race four got underway, this time the start positions had reverted to a reverse grid. Stuart again made no delay in moving forward overtaking a number of trucks on the opening lap, unfortunately when entering Druids for the second time a truck came down the outside and out of control hitting the rear of a number of trucks causing one to spin ahead of Stuart’s truck. Stuart avoided a head-on collision with this truck but unfortunately another truck had no space to avoid and skidded into Stuart’s truck shredding his front tyre, forcing Stuart no option other than to retire from the race.
In Summary Stuart and his team were happy with the overall performance of his truck and are confident more race pace is possible, they are now looking forward to the next team outing. Where and when this is still to be decided.