2012 Delphi British Truck Racing Championship Rounds 3 & 4 – Brands Hatch by JONATHAN REEVES
SUMMERFIELD STEALS JENKINS THUNDER LOCAL DRIVER SMITH DOMINATES DIVISION 2
The second event in the 2012 Delphi British Truck Racing Championship featured a bit of everything; dramatic racing, sudden stormy downpours of rain, some spectacular spins – plus a grid full of top-class truck racing talent including three Dutch drivers and former European Champion Heinz-Werner Lenz from Germany.
But it was the British drivers who set a sizzling pace in both categories with Mat Summerfield and David Jenkins sharing the honours in Division 1 while Dave Smith scored a ‘double’ in Division 2.
Division 2 – Two Wins for Smith but Janes stays top of the table!
Smith topped the Division 2 timesheets after Qualifying – and the Tonbridge-based driver was clearly determined to well as he lined up on his ‘home’ track in his red and yellow Foden for Sunday’s first heavyweight battle.
Oly Janes – double winner in the opening event at Pembrey three weeks ago – lined up alongside Smith on the front of the grid but from the rolling start Smith powered into a lead he held all the way to the chequered flag, the Kent driver pulling over 6.5 seconds clear by the time crossed the finishing line.
Another local driver, John Powell – overcame the bonneted Volvo White of Brian Burt to grab the final podium spot in his Ford Cargo, just 0.449s. splitting the two at the line.
Steve Taylor (ERF) fended of the attentions of determined Dutchman Marco Donk (Volvo) to grab 5th place with Oscar Clark (Volvo), Adam Bint (White) and newcomer Frans Smit (Scania) completing the top nine.
The Division 2 drivers were mixed in with the ‘big guns’ from Division 1 for the 12-lap Grand Final –which saw points scored towards both classes of the Delphi British Championships.
Despite a treacherously slippery track Smith was again the dominant force within his group – blasting the Foden to another Division 2 victory (and a fine 8th overall) and finishing nearly 10 seconds clear of his nearest rival.
The runner-up spot again fell to Oly Janes – but the Scania driver really had to work hard for his points, fighting a lengthy battle with on-form Burt. After a late charge (where he collected fastest lap in class) Janes pipped the American truck to the line by just 0.098s. – so both clearly deserved their spot on the podium. That one point made a lot of difference –as Janes retains his place at the head of Division 2 Championship standings with Smith now trailing by just one point.
Powell had another strong showing to bring his Ford home in 4th, slicing ahead of West Kingsdown local Clark mid-race. Bint held on for 6th – fending off Steve Taylor (ERF) who was recovering from a mid-race spin.
Division 1 – Advantage Summerfield as Jenks take a Spin!
Mat Summerfield stole pole position from reigning Champion Dave Jenkins with a stunning flying lap on a damp but drying track – just 0.271 splitting the pair of MANs. The rest of the grid was tightly packed too – Steve Tomas put his MAN into third slot just 0.2 sec clear of German ‘visitor’ Heinz-Werner Lenz (Mercedes).
Summerfield led the charge into Paddock Hill bend for the first time with Jenks and the rest of the pack clinging to his rear bumper. Everyone made it cleanly through that first turn – but at the Druids Hairpin unlucky Richard Collett was again in the wrong place as his 5th-placed MAN took a whack on the rear from Ben Horne’s similar machine under braking.
Up front Summerfield’s rear mirrors were full of silver MAN as Jenkins climbed all over him… the Burton-on-Trent driver finally making a slip on lap 5 as he out-braked himself into Druids, leaving a big hole on the inside. Jenkins grabbed the chance and snatched a lead he then retained all the way to the flag – taking the win by just 0.431s.
Lenz had a storming race in the orange Mercedes – the 1998 and 1999 European Champion showing he’s still got a taste for speed as he grabbed third spot from Thomas, this duo split by just 0.218s after 8 hectic laps.
After his first lap nudge Collett had a steady but somewhat lonely run to 5th place – some six seconds behind the pack. Dutchman Cees Zandbergen was enjoying himself as he recovered from a bad practice session that saw him starting from the back. The Scania driver battled his way past Horne and the Renault of Luke Taylor to grab a satisfying sixth.
An exciting (non-championship) semi-final race had provided plenty of excitement mid-afternoon as a full grid of 17 starters battled for positions – the finishing order being used to decide the grid for the Grand Final.
That last race of the day (scoring the points for Round 4 of the Delphi British Championship) certainly brought some upsets in the Division 1 standings.
The track was still very slippery from an earlier downpour –and lap times were about 5 seconds slower. But the on-track action was intense.
Summerfield grabbed the early initiative and led the pack into Paddock – while Jenkins lost out to Lenz who sneaked up the inside. At Druids hairpin the pack piled in, separated by centimetres – or even less – as Jenkins found to his cost as hard-charging Thomas clipped his rear and sent the silver truck into a full spin. Thomas himself went into the gravel trap – and soon afterwards retired to the pits.
Meanwhile the entire field had streamed past Jenkins – so he rejoined the tarmac dead last – with 15 trucks and 12 laps ahead of him.
There was no stopping Summerfield who shook of Lenz and posted fastest lap as he powered away to a comfortable 5.4 seconds victory over the German. Collett – for once – was in the right place to benefit from a coming together; the Halifax haulier had steered clear of the first lap drama to emerge in third place which he held all the way to the flag – finishing nearly 9 seconds clear of Horne.
But all eyes were fixed on the impressive progress being made by Jenkins –as he sliced his way past all the Division 2 runners. With there being only a narrow ‘dry line’ Jenks was often forced to go wide and onto the slippery stuff as he dived inside and outside of various quick and competent drivers, including Smith in 7th place. With just a few laps remaining Jenkins had his sight set on the first Division 1 runner – Luke Taylor’s Renault. The green machine was gradually reeled in – and passed – and the next target was Zandbergen… another five seconds up the road.
Jenkins was taking no prisoners and tracked down the Dutchman – closing by around 2 seconds a lap he closed in and finally passed the Scania to move into a fabulous 5th. Less than one second ahead was Horne’s gold MAN – but time was against Jenkins and the chequered flag came out. He’d salvaged 6 valuable points – and in the process impressed the large and appreciative Brands crowd.
But Summerfield has now opened a five-point advantage at the top of the championship. The action is sure to be fast and furious when the Delphi British Truck Racing Championship moves on to it’s next venue – the Nurburgring (Germany) in July…home ground for Lenz!