Truck Racing with Team Oliver Racing at Donington
TEAM OLIVER RACING JOINS THE “CONVOY IN THE PARK”
Last weekend 22/23 July TEAM OLIVER RACING made the journey to what is the closest to home Donington Park race circuit, the place many believe is the true birth place of Truck Racing. This year the event organisers had pulled out all the stops to create an event specifically for the truck and driver, cutely named “CONVOY IN THE PARK” the event without doubt turned out to be one of the best truck race events held in Europe for many years. Off the circuit the tens of thousands of spectators that attended the two-day event had plenty to do and see, with more than twelve hundred very well-presented show trucks, industry vehicles and equipment manufacture displays, trade stands, kids play areas, fun fair, roaming entertainers, an all action arena (including caravan smashing) as well as a host of other activities for all the family to enjoy including a live entertainment main stage.
Both Stuart and Michael had for many months looked forward to the opportunity to race in front of a great many family, friends, sponsors and business associates. Due to the compact timetable, the race schedule was very demanding, with no less than twenty-nine trucks entered at the event the twenty-minute qualification session on the Saturday morning was a tense time. Stuart managed to post a time to secure third place on the grid for the first race, only two tenths slower than the pole place man. Michael also did not disappoint and secured a place on the seventh row of the grid.
Race one; held mid-day on the Saturday got underway without great drama then only a few laps in the heavyweight one hundred miles per hour machines started pushing and shoving each other resulting in a many off-track excursion for both Stuart and Michael, by the chequered flag Stuart had recovered from a number of unscheduled excursions and crossed the line in fifth place, Michael crossed the line eleventh.
Race two; started in damp conditions in the late afternoon, this time the all action reverse grid format was in play. Stuart started from near the back and Michael from near the front of the grid. As expected the action started immediately as the red lights went out, unfortunately the red flags came out on lap two, after a fellow competitor went off track and hit very hard the safety barrier. After a short delay, the race restarted in what was by then very wet conditions. With the front nine trucks all running flat out in nose to tail formation, to venture of the race line would have resulted in a certain off-track excursion. At the chequered flag Michael had done enough to secure third place and what was his first career podium finish in the British Truck Race Championship. Stuart finished only two places behind in fifth. The whole team and all associated were delighted with Michael’s milestone achievement.
Race three; on the Sunday morning, the rain clouds had passed, Stuart started from a mid-field position, Michael from near the back of the grid. Stuart was determined to better his previous days performance, Michael on a high was hungry to better his previous days outstanding performance. Mid-race all was going well Stuart was working up through the pack when his truck was hit hard from the rear in the breaking zone entering the Goddard’s chicane, resulting in a trip through the gravel trap and a burst rear tyre, the tyre damage was manageable but unfortunately the gravel had shredded the water pump drive belt on the engine, forcing him to retire to the pit lane, Michael however kept the Team Oliver flag flying and crossed the finish line in tenth place.
Race four; the sun was bright in the sky and things were set for an action-packed race, Stuart because of his previous none finish started from the very back of the grid, Michael started from near the front. As soon as the start lights went out both Team Oliver trucks were soon heading towards the front of the pack. With what was yet another all action race, Michael managed to score his second championship career podium with another fantastic third place finish. Stuart had a hard race and after a long battle crossed the line in sixth place.
Race five; the last race of the weekend and generally the one that all drivers want to score well in to allow them to go home happy. Stuart was at this time disappointed with his trucks performance over the weekend and was determined to better his previous race performance, Michael was happy but still eager to move further up the podium steps. Stuart started in the middle of the grid while Michael was further towards the back. When the twenty-two trucks moved off on the formation lap the rain started to fall and the scene was now set for a spectacular battle. The trucks roared over the start line and the action commenced. Positions were changing corner by corner as all the trucks competed to get to the chequered flag first and after what was a nail biting time for the many team supporters, Stuart emerged over the finish line close behind the race winner in second place ensuring him his first visit to the podium. Michael also did not disappoint and finished the race in sixth place.
The team now have only two weeks to prepare for a none championship demonstration and passenger ride event at Lydden Hill in Kent 5th 6th August, then they have a few weeks more to prepare for the next British Truck Race Championship event to be held at Snetterton, Norfolk on 9th 10th September.
Melanie Derflinger – TOR; Team Oliver Racing