Strong showing at Europe’s biggest event of the year!
The fourth round of the 2017 BTRA British Truck Racing Championship took place in very unseasonal conditions at the rain-swept Nurburging in Germany – which meant that the British drivers making their annual overseas visit had to cope with a very treacherous track. But even the intermittent heavy rain could do nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the 115,000 fans – who certainly witnessed plenty of thrills and spills.
Dave Jenkins was right in the centre of the action over the three days of the event; from setting some stunning Qualifying laps to secure 2nd and 3rd quickest times through to collecting a fine third place in the Sunday race. As usual, Dave was fighting hard with the Digraph MAN running in the leading pack in every outing – and although spins in two races reduced his final points tally the weekend ended on a high point with that podium result in the third race.
For the Qualifying session Jenkins posted several clean quick laps; good planning as the two fastest laps counted towards the grids for the first and third races respectively.
The opening race of the weekend took place on Friday, meaning the late German crowd had some real racing to watch on this last cool day of June. Jenkins was right on the pace from the moment the lights flashed green and making good progress at the front of the field.
Setting a blistering pace – and lapping even faster than his Qualifying times – Jenkins in the black MAN was looking set to capitalise upon his good start. Secure in second place with just three laps to run, Jenks was holding off fellow MAN driver Shane Brereton. But his rival – suffering overheating brakes – dived up the inside into the first corner, clipping the rear corner and sending Dave into a full 180 degree spin.
Quickly regaining his composure, Jenkins re-engaged first gear and completed the spin amid a cloud of tyre smoke – now facing the right direction but having lost valuable ground. Some determined driving in the remaining few laps saw Dave finally recover to a fighting 4th.
“It was a bit frustrating to lose out on a near-certain podium but at least we salvaged a strong 4th and collected 7 championship points” said Dave afterwards.
On Friday evening attention switched to the pit straight of the Nurburgring where the closely contested international ”Go & Stop” competition proceeded under the rain. Jenkins was in fine form, mastering the slippery track, proceededing through the knock-out qualifying heats to eventually take first prize in the final. A great end to the first day of action.
Race two took place on an increasingly tricky track on Saturday morning and saw Dave engaged in lengthy battle with the MANs of Mat Summerfield and Ryan Smith. With heavy rain causing the race pattern to be interrupted by ‘Full Circuit Yellow’ flag speed restrictions the leading group had to ease the pace considerably.
But as the race approached half-race distance with green flags displayed again, Dave was back up to full speed and running in the top five, when he made a rare mistake. Applying the throttle just a fraction too soon, he went spinning off and clipped the barrier bringing his race to a premature end.
“A small but costly mistake as I was unfortunately unable to get back onto the tarmac and we sustained a lot of damage” said Dave as his well drilled team set about repairing the truck for the upcoming Race 3. With just a one-hour window before the trucks lined up in the Assembly Area the efficient mechanics were racing against the clock to replace the windscreen, bumper and various other parts in order to have the Digraph MAN on the startline in pristine condition. But their efforts were well rewarded.
The third race of the Mittelrhein Cup races on Saturday afternoon saw slightly improved conditions – and was certainly the highlight of the German meeting as far as Jenkins and his team were concerned.
Making a good clean start in the early laps Jenkins was engaged in a fierce battle for third with Summerfield, which allowed the leading duo to pull clear. But Dave eventually gained the upper hand and gradually eased away from Summerfield and then had an uneventful run to the chequered flag with a near 10 second window between him and his nearest rivals both in front and behind, while earning himself a much deserved visit to the podium.
“Once I’d shaken off Mat it was bit of a lonely race race for me – but I’m fine with third place on the podium and another 8 championship points”.
That gave Dave good reason to be confident of another good result in the fourth of the scheduled Mittelrhein Cup races – but that event never took place! Stuart Oliver’s Volvo suffered an injector failure and on the warm-up lap coated the entire track with a considerable quantity of fluids…and with the prospect of further rain and limited time for a clean-up operation the organisers reluctantly cancelled the rest of the race programme.
Next outing for Dave and the Digraph MAN will be at the circuit he regards as ‘home’ territory (and the closest location to the team base): Donington Park on July 22/23.
BTRA Championship points standings
1) Smith 130
2) Summerfield 117
3) Brereton 110
4) JENKINS 107
5) Oliver 106
6) Coleman 65