Truck Racing Newsletter: Team Oliver Racing at Donington Park
Melanie Derflinger reports:
Last weekend 10th 11th August at Donington Park the 2019 premier British Truck Race event took place under the now famously recognised brand of “CONVOY IN THE PARK”. Following on from the popularity of the previous two years events it was always going to be a bigger and better event, and this it was with record number of public and trade visitors. The race activity because of Friday circuit noise restrictions got underway on the Thursday afternoon, with two thirty-minute test sessions.
Stuart and the team used the time to blow the cobwebs out of the trucks and also to allow Michael, who was back behind the wheel of the SCANIA for the weekend, to get to grips with the trucks improvements that Martin and the team introduced during last season.
Following the two test sessions both Stuart and Michael were happy with the set-up changes made and both trucks were in good shape ahead of the Saturday morning qualification session.
Saturday morning soon came around and the bumper amount of trucks all went out on track to qualify ahead of race one. Stuart and Michael both knew they were up against stiff competition because for this event several British FIA European Truck Race teams were in attendance, nevertheless Stuart soon started to notch up lap times that saw him in sixth-place, a position that was commendable. As the qualification session progressed Stuart’s times got faster, at the end of the session he had managed to secure fourth fastest, with a lap time of 1:26.761 and an average speed of 82.11 MPH. Michael also did not disappoint and posted his fastest time at 1:29.420 and an average speed of 79.67 MPH.
Race One; on Saturday afternoon got underway in sunny but rather windy conditions. Stuart with his VOLVO managed to hold on throughout the race to fourth place, at times he was able to challenge for third and at other times he had to defend hard to hold his position. Michael managed to hold his own and despite a few scrapes and spins he brought the SCANIA across the line in tenth place.
Race Two; on Sunday morning the reverse grid format had come into play, with the top eight trucks from Saturday’s race being reversed. Stuart therefore started from the middle of the grid and Michael started from three rows further back. Once the start lights went out Stuart immediately made progress and very soon he was up among the front four trucks. Lap after lap he steadily gained places and closed in on the leader, who had initially pulled a good lead. With four laps to go Stuart had caught the leader but at the same time had a train of European race trucks very close behind. The pressure was well and truly immense, but as always Stuart dug deep and managed to challenge and defend until the chequered flag, giving him a very well earned second place podium finish. Michael also did not disappoint and piled the pressure on moving past a number of top-class machines and again not frightened to share paintwork he brought his truck past the chequered flag in a very commendable seventh place.
Race Three; followed the lunch time grid walk, unfortunately when Stuart’s truck was standing on the grid a loud bang was heard which was then discovered to be a steering arm bolt that had snapped. Because of the limited time the truck was taken from the grid and ultimately Stuart had to watch the race from the pit lane. Michael who started from near the back of the grid soon made progress and his way past a number of trucks ahead, holding on to cross the finish line in eighth place.
Race Four; the final truck race of the event and as always this is the race the gloves come off. The team had managed to remove and replace the broken steering bolt on Stuart’s truck and Michael’s truck was performing well. So, all was set for a grand finale. Michael started the race from pole position and Stuart started from way back on the seventh row. As soon as the start lights went out Michael was over the line and off as fast as possible with a gang of trucks on his rear bumper, Stuart could only go forward in the ranking and that he did lap after lap. Michael trucks unfortunately did not have the pace to keep the European spec machines behind, but Michael did not make the task of overtaking him easy. By mid-race Stuart had made great progress and had cleared a group of trucks and was closing down on the fourth-place truck, unfortunately before he could get close enough to make a challenge the chequered flag came out, meaning Stuart had to settle for fifth place. Michael’s truck unfortunately received some mid-race damage causing him to have no option other than head to the pit lane with still a few laps to go.
In summary Stuart was delighted with the overall performance of the team and wishes to thank all the teams loyal sponsors for their support and commitment.