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Enthusiasts have been waiting 10 years to see FIA European truck racing return to the UK. This finally happened on 23 and 24 April at the Donington Park Circuit, north of Birmingham, with the first truck Grand Prix of the new FIA European Truck Racing Championship season. The event also saw European Team Champions Renault Trucks-MKR Technology determined to defend their crown, as well as a new Renault Trucks driver, Adam Lacko. Everything was there at Donington to ensure that this would be a spectacular event. In sporting terms, Renault Trucks-MKR Technology earned a place on the podium for each of the weekend’s four races. With two firsts, Markus Oestreich was top of the rankings at the end of these initial two days of the championship, while in the exhibition area, Renault Trucks presented its range of vehicles to several thousand guests.
Having reached the top of the podium at the end of its inaugural season last year, the still young MKR Technology team was under considerable pressure as this year’s championship competition opened. All eyes were therefore riveted on the team’s two drivers, German Markus Oestreich and Swiss Markus Bösiger. On this occasion, Markus Oestreich certainly didn’t disappoint! During the first race on the Saturday, after having earned pole position and clocked the fastest lap, he pulled off an assertive first, more than 7 seconds ahead of the N°2. An achievement he repeated with a 3 second lead at the end of the first race on the Sunday. Despite a 3rd place in the 2nd Sunday race, Markus Oestreich was this weekend’s decisive winner. Having accumulated a total of 51 points, he tops the rankings.
Much was also expected of Adam Lacko, the new Renault truck driver. He and Anthony Janiec form the Franco-Czech MKR Team 14 juniors. During the reverse grid race, the second on Saturday, he was in the lead for a considerable part of the race, finally finishing an excellent second. During the first race on Sunday, Anthony Janiec came in 7th.
For Gérard Pétraz, these results have nothing to do with good luck. “We haven’t been resting on our laurels. Even if the DXi13 Racing engine has been acknowledged to be the best engine in the discipline, we have been working to make it even better throughout the winter. It now has a power rating of 1,140 hp, with a torque of 5,500 Nm and a maximum engine speed of 2,600 rpm.”
Since truck racing is such a popular sport with the manufacturer’s customers, Renault Trucks had decided to be this British Truck Grand Prix’s main partner. There was therefore a whole succession of events and attractions organised on one of its three stands throughout the entire weekend. These included face painters, a balloon modeller and a clown for the children. There were also autograph sessions with the drivers and racing truck simulators. Not to mention the concert given by the current world champion Elvis Presley impersonator, from the back of a Renault Premium curtainsider. All of which delighted the family audience that came in droves to the Renault Trucks stands.
At the same time as all these activities designed to attract the public were in full swing, a number of commercial activities were also taking place. Renault Trucks had invited 12,000 customers to its three stands, and 8,000 took up the invitation. VIPs, customers and the general public were all able to see (or see again) the full range, from the Renault Maxity to the Magnum, on display in the paddock – where young and old were given the opportunity of climbing on board. But the undisputed star of the weekend was the Renault Premium Truck Racing special edition with an exterior and interior finish evoking the atmosphere of racing. This presentation on the manufacturer’s stand marked its debut appearance in the UK - and it was also the pace truck for the weekend’s four races. It should be mentioned that Renault Trucks UK has also chosen to offer a Truck Racing special edition of the Magnum in a 6x2 configuration.
In 2010, Renault Trucks held a 7% market share in the UK, compared with 5.1% during the previous 12 months (in the over 6t vehicle category). Last year, the manufacturer sold almost 3,000 HGVs and LCVs in the country, including more than 1,300 Premium Long Distance vehicles. The company is also continuing to grow its market share in the UK, currently with a 7.7% market share above 6t to 21st April 2011. Marc Martinez, Renault Trucks’ UK managing director comments, “The number of spectators far exceeded our most optimistic forecasts. We are very proud to have been the main partner for this British Truck Grand Prix, which gave us maximum exposure to truck enthusiasts. Customers and members of the public were delighted to have the opportunity of climbing aboard the vehicles on display. Together with all our network of almost 70 dealers, we are doing everything to develop the Renault Trucks brand on the UK market via truck racing.”