5 April, 2015, Deccan Herald
Oliver of Castrol Vecton triumphs again despite tough time
Tata Motors, India’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, recently held the second season of the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship 2015 at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC), Greater Noida.
Tata Motors has brought this popular sport to India as a T1 Truck Racing Championship under the aegis of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) and FMSCI (Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India).
Truck racing is new in India. The sport began in the United States at the Motor Speedway on June 17, 1979. In the last few years, truck racing has earned a higher profile, and currently over 30 teams regularly compete for various championships. Races kick off from a rolling start, and commonly last from eight to 12 laps. It is a non-contact sport. All drivers must hold a race licence issued by the Motor Sports Association, or the national motorsport body from the driver’s country.
T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship 2015 proved to be an exciting one, drawing huge crowds to the circuit just like it had last year. Spread over two days – Saturday, March 14, and Sunday, March 15 – the venue, teams, and participating drivers did not see many changes from last year. But the race-specs of Prima trucks went through a host of upgrades incorporating the learnings from Season 1.
Trucks 700 kg lighter
Making all the difference, the trucks were now 700 kg lighter with a lower ground clearance and a re-tuned suspension setup. The engines witnessed a 10 per cent improvement in performance, producing 370 HP of power and with a top speed of 130 km/hr (monstrous for a five-tonne weighing truck). Braking performance was also enhanced with the new pressurised water tanks added at the back to cool off the brakes. In this race, there were 12 custom-built Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Prima model trucks. To drive them, there were 12 British drivers. There were 16 laps around the 5.13 km-long track.
Compared with Europe, trucks on the Indian track featured less power and raced at lower speeds. Last year, speed was capped at 110 km per hour. This time it was raised a tad to 130 km per hour. Last year’s race stretched over 15 laps. This time it was extended to 16. The vehicle’s weight was reduced accordingly.
It was thrilling to see experienced drivers manoeuvre their way around the track, roaring majestically as their feet stepped on the gas pedals. In all, six teams participated in the race: Castrol Vecton, Cummins, Tata Technologies Motorsports, Dealer Warriors, Allied Partners, and Dealer Daredevils. Each team had two trucks, adding up to 12 drivers.
On the race day, it drizzled at the BIC. Very large-sized trucks trying to overtake each other on the straight and curved bends often collided, adding energy to the raw competitive intensity. The noise from the five-tonne trucks seemed to add to the frenzy of the race lovers.
Defending champion Stuart Oliver from team Castrol Vecton, a 51-year-old driver, emerged the champion this year as well. But not before he was given some anxious moments when Steve Thomas of Team Allied Partners topped in the qualifying race on Saturday, and secured the pole position.
Steve dominated the eight-lap Super Qualifier race on Sunday as well. But once the drivers got into the thick of action in the 16-lap final race, there was no stopping Stuart Oliver, despite the wet conditions. Steve Thomas of Allied Partners and Steven Powell of Tata Technologies Motorsports took second and third place respectively.
For Season II WABCO, JK Tyres, Cummins, Castrol and Tata Technologies were the main sponsors. WABCO Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jacques Esculier told”’ Deccan Herald that the company showcased its reliable, fine-tuned systems on the participating trucks.
(The author attended the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship 2015 at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC), Greater Noida, at the invitation of Tata Motors)