Last weekend, on 1st and 2nd of September, T Sport Racing went to Czech Republic to participate at the fifth round of the 2018 European Truck Racing Championship on Autodrom Most. It was quite a long trip for our team from the North of England but both the journey and the event itself turned into a real adventure for all of us – and probably also for the numerous guests from Norway, Sweden, Germany and the Czech Republic that joined us for the weekend.
Once we set up the team’s garage and hospitality unit at the paddock, the race weekend started off with two free practice sessions on Friday afternoon. It was Terry´s first chance to get out on the track and a challenging test as it was his first time ever on this circuit. What’s more, throughout the past 5 weeks, we built a completely new – now right-handed – race truck cab. So Terry had plenty to do: While getting to know the track, he also had to get used to the new seating position and to make sure everything was working fine.
Following this test session, a city parade was scheduled. All race trucks lined up in the paddock. Escorted by the police, they then headed to the town centre of Most where locals and fans had the chance to get a close look at the race trucks and to grab an autograph card of the drivers.
The qualifying on Saturday morning decided about the starting grid of the first race. We were all quite happy as we saw Terry improving his lap times with each lap. His best time placed him on the 14th position overall – not bad considering that about 5 other drivers posted very similar times.
As the first race started, the guests gathered by the windows of the hospitality awning on the track side. For the first few laps, Terry held his position. When the driver ahead got a penalty, Terry moved up one place. The next couple of laps became quite eventful. After some contact, he lost one place again but fought hard putting in some very competitive lap times and getting himself and the T Sport race truck back into 14th place – i.e. 5th place in his class at the end of the race whilst posting the 3rd-fastest time in his class.
Towards the end of the race, the truck developed a judder. Throughout the hour between the races, the mechanics took the steering and brake systems apart trying to find the problem. They did anything they could, considering the tight schedule.
Unfortunately, Terry had to retire 3 laps into the 2nd race as the juddering just got worse. With the wet conditions, it made the truck hard to handle. The mechanics then worked late into the night replacing all of the components they thought could be the cause of the problem and hoping for a more successful second race day.
At the short morning warm up on Sunday, we noticed that all of his work had been in vain. It didn’t make the judder any better. Between the warm up and qualifying, the mechanics decided to attach an onboard camera underneath the truck to see exactly what was going on. Coming in from the qualifying, they watched the video captured by the camera and decided to change the dampers. Luckily it also stopped raining which was definitely in our favour.
Terry qualified 15th overall – 6th in his class. All guests gathered for the grid walk preceding the race where the PE-branded truck was on show along with the other competitors’ trucks for all spectators to walk around them.
Terry had a good start but got pushed out wide in the first corner. Two trucks from behind used their chance to push through putting him down into 17th. When one of the trucks had to retire half way through the race, Terry carried on pushing hard and managed to get himself back into 15th place. He held this position all the way across the finish line.
Shortly before the final race of the weekend, we then had to change an injector at the engine. Eager to get a good result at the final race, perhaps even too eager, Terry had a bump with another truck in the first few laps. Taking off all the front panels, he then pushed hard still wanting a good result. At the last lap, however, he spun his truck leaving him only in 18thposition, unfortunately.
Still, the final chapter has not yet been written. We are now taking the team and truck directly to Snetterton in the UK where we will race this Saturday and Sunday! Stay tuned!