Neil Tressler hauled himself up into the top ten places in a drama-filled maiden visit to the historic Magny Cours circuit in central France for Rounds 9, 10 and 11 of the 2013 Pickup Truck Racing Championship (29-30 June).
Persistent drizzle meant grip levels were comparable to an ice rink for Saturday’s first practice session and Warwickshire’s Tressler was unable to fully bed in to the circuit before qualifying.
Nevertheless, the Relssert Racing driver went on to record the tenth fastest time in qualifying and grab pole position for the first of three races on French soil on Sunday afternoon (30 June).
In a sad twist of fate, Tressler was reduced to watching from the sidelines when a trivial fuel pump issue brought his Isuzu truck to a halt away from the rolling start.
But having been denied a potential top ten finish in race one, Tressler returned to the fray for the second encounter keen to demonstrate his raw pace by mixing it at the sharp end.
A solid start from 12th on the grid saw him break into the top eight places, until an unforced error demoted him to 11th, where he eventually finished.
A closely-fought finale saw two packs of six do battle. Tressler’s lap times proved Relssert Racing had nailed its dry setup, but his hard work was undone when Phil White’s gearbox imploded in a spectacular fashion, dumping oil in the Warwickshire-domiciled racer's path and causing him to spin.
A resurgent Tressler fought his way back up the order to take the flag in tenth place, performing some canny overtakes on the competition and concluding a challenging, yet rewarding weekend on France’s historic Magny Cours circuit on a high.
“I was bitterly disappointed to retire from the first race so early on, considering we had the pace to transform pole position into a strong points finish,” said Tressler. “Tenth place in the final provided some consolation, although I think I had the performance in my truck to finish well inside the top ten if I hadn’t spun on the oil dropped by White.
“What’s most pleasing about the weekend is that we are much closer to finding an optimal setup for our Isuzu truck. We were on the pace throughout and it was only small mechanical issues and a few silly mistakes that stood in our way – but if I hadn’t made any errors while learning a new track, I could have been accused of not pushing hard enough!”
The 2013 Pickup Truck Racing Championship returns to the UK for its next instalment, with Lydden Hill in Kent the host venue for Rounds 12 and 13 of the season (13-14 July).