A testing weekend for Rooster
The six weeks separating the BTRC championship racing at Donington Park in July and Snetterton last weekend have been a whirlwind of activity for Rooster.
Donington had seen driver Luke Taylor clambering out of his overturned truck after spinning off the greasy surface. Mechanical problems had contributed to the accident, and though Luke had walked away largely unhurt, the same couldn’t be said for his vehicle. The truck needed significant repairs.
As the countdown to Snetterton began, the Rooster team toiled long and hard in the workshop to make Klaus (the team’s MAN racing truck) race ready in time for the Norfolk event. A giant repair job included trips to Germany for advice and spare parts from Jochen Hahn, the truck’s original owner.
The team made it, if only just. Rooster finally pulled into the circuit in the early hours of Saturday morning, meaning Luke missed Friday’s free practice section and a chance to gradually acclimatise to an unfamiliar track and a rebuilt truck. With that in mind, Rooster took the decision to ease both Luke and Klaus gently back into competitive action. Snetterton would be a tester weekend, where getting in some solid laps was more important than points and prizes.
The team missed out on qualification for the first race of the weekend, but starting from the back of the grid suited Rooster well. It would give Luke chance to regain confidence from the back of the pack, and get a feel for both the tricky damp conditions and for the rebuilt King Klaus.
The race was red flagged twice before finally running to completion in the late afternoon. Luke finished in 11th place, but was clocking competitive lap times throughout. Confidence was creeping back into the Rooster team.
For the next race Luke could have taken 2nd place on the grid, but the decision was taken to start from the back of the pack once again. More tweaks and adjustments were made to Klaus, and despite a circuit made greasy by wet weather and spilt oil, Luke battled home to a ninth place finish. “My confidence is coming back and I’m feeling more comfortable behind the wheel,” he said after the race.
For the third race, Luke took up his position on the front row of the grid, powering ahead of the vastly experienced Michael Oliver on the first corner and taking a comfortable lead. Despite understandable nerves after Donington, Luke looked back to his best. "Starting P2 on the grid I was nervous but I knew I had to do it, get my head down and focus," he said.
Luke was racing well with clear track in front of him, but another red flag scuppered Rooster’s chances of a fine finish. The race was abandoned after a multi-truck collision back in the pack.
It was a frustrating moment, and the rerun race was to be Rooster’s last of the weekend. Again, mechanical issues were the cause, with Luke sensing problems with the steering, brakes and clutch. He had learnt lessons from Donington, and decided to bring the truck home three laps before the end of the race rather than battle on and risk a rerun of the accident.
“I knew something was wrong within the first couple of laps,” said Luke. “I couldn't risk another accident, so we made a team decision to pull up and take the DNF (Did Not Finish) from the race.”
It was a sensible decision and means that both truck and driver will be ready to put themselves through their paces at the iconic Le Mans track in a couple of weeks’ time, where Rooster will be racing against its British competitors in a special invitation meet.
Team principal David Taylor said: “We’re pleased with the weekend because after Donington it was very much a tester for us. We wanted to see how the truck responded after all the work we’ve had to do, and we wanted Luke to get a feel for it and get his confidence back up. Both those have been achieved and we’ve picked up a couple of issues to work on before we race again. After Donington it was unspectacular but solid progress.”
Martin Sangster, commercial manager for partner company G-truck, added. “If you saw the truck right after Donington you might have thought being at Snetterton at all was out of the question! So it’s credit to the whole team that Luke was on the grid on Saturday. After what was really a test weekend in Norfolk, fingers crossed we should be back to our best for the Le Mans racing, which promises to be very special. Rooster can’t be at Pembrey in October for business reasons, but a good showing at Le Mans will set us up nicely for the final meet of the season at Brands Hatch.”
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