Tressler breaks podiums duck as Pickup Trucks head to East Anglia
Relssert Racing’s Neil Tressler hailed Donington Park’s Pickup Truck Racing Championship weekend as a watershed moment after achieving his maiden podium finish of the 2013 season (17-18 August).
Tressler and his Pickup Truck Racing counterparts travelled to the historic Donington Park circuit in the East Midlands for Rounds 15 and 16 of the ultra-competitive championship.
The Warwickshire-domiciled racer has shown genuine front-running pace since upgrading to 2.3-litre Vauxhall power this year, but has been prevented from utilising that boost in performance by mechanical maladies and on-track incidents.
However, Tressler arrived at Donington on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with clear intentions, targeting solid top ten finishes and, ultimately, sixth place in the championship standings.
A stellar qualifying performance put a stunned Tressler in the thick of the action. From fourth on the grid in Round 15, Relssert Racing’s Isuzu truck emerged from the typical Redgate corner scrum at the head of the field.
Tressler held the initiative for almost a full lap but involuntarily relinquished first place when a tap from behind sent him wide.
Never to be deterred, Tressler stayed in touch with the leading pack, running nose-to-tail with Nic Grindrod, Pete Stevens and Pete Wilkinson for almost the entire race to take the finish in a highly respectable sixth place.
With the top five qualifiers reversed for the start of Round 16, Tressler was delighted to take up pole position.
A fast-starting Michael Smith stole the lead as the field streaked away from the grid, but Tressler kept his foot in and tried everything in his armoury to recapture first place.
The Relssert Racing driver kept Smith honest but couldn’t unseat his Hartlepool-based rival when, on lap nine, what transpired to be a broken throttle linkage halted Tressler’s charge.
David O’Regan was soon looming large in his mirrors, although a spectacular propshaft failure sent the Irishman spearing into the Redgate gravel and out of contention before he could mount a realistic challenge.
This provided Tressler with the breathing room required to nurse his ailing Isuzu truck to the finish in an emphatic second place - his maiden podium finish of 2013.
“I’m absolutely delighted with what we achieved at Donington Park, especially given the circumstances,” said Tressler. “I think I should have won the second race, but I was gobsmacked when I made it to the finish with a broken throttle linkage – I don’t know how the truck lasted but somebody was looking over me!
“I definitely had the pace and would have pushed Michael (Smith) to the end. I was quite literally nudging him through the corners, trying everything I could to try and pass him for the lead and I think he would have succumbed to the pressure eventually.”
The Pickup Truck Racing Championship’s next port of call is the Snetterton circuit near Thetford, Norfolk this weekend (25-26 August).
Set in picturesque surroundings, the 2.99-mile Snetterton ‘300’ circuit is a technical challenge that boasts an abundance of overtaking opportunities and provides spectators with unrivalled views of the action.
With no prior experience on Snetterton’s extended ‘300’ configuration, Tressler acknowledges that he will face an uphill struggle while acclimatising to the track, but feels a refined driving style and an ever-improving Isuzu truck will help him emulate last weekend’s successes.
“I’m filled with optimism as we head to Snetterton and I think if we can have a decent qualifying session, we’ll be in good shape during the races,” said Tressler.
“I don’t want to get too positive or cocky but I genuinely feel Donington was a watershed moment and we can achieve more podium finishes before the end of the season. I’m settled and the truck is too.”
Highlights from Rounds 15 and 16 of the 2013 Pickup Truck Racing Championship at Donington Park will be broadcast on Motors TV at 17.50 on Wednesday 11 September.