Zalenski dominates his way to victory lane
After a wild and competitive start of the season, the Socks Out Racing V8 SuperTrucks World Championship looked to continue their battles at the Brands Hatch Circuit in mid-May.
Round 6 of the 2019 season sent the best drivers in the series look to conquer the 2.3-mile British road course to end the Spring portion of the schedule. The track seen a mix of long straightaways and sweeping corners that could challenge the skills of any driver.
Entering the round, Bobby Zalenski had been having a slow start to 2019. The VRS Coanda SimSport driver had been on the podium twice entering Brands Hatch. During the 2018 season, he had won all but one race at this same point.
However, he brought his fastest truck of the season to the track for Round 6. The U.S.-based driver set a series track record-setting time of 01:23.363 in qualifying, helping him secure his second pole of the year. Radicals Online’s Sven Cammaerts, the points leader entering the race, was more than half a second behind on his second-place lap.
After the race, Zalenski told RaceSpot TV he was able to spend a lot of time fine-tuning his setup for the round.
“I had a couple hours after the Porsche eSports Supercup race to really try and diagnose my issues with the setup and my driving,” said Zalenski. “That was a really good two and half hours of testing I was able to do before this race that I haven’t really had the chance to do all year. I think I just got the truck handling exactly how I like it or as close I could to it.”
Zalenski’s preparation helped him be quick from the onset, clearing Cammaerts heading into the second corner of the race.
Behind the top two positions though, the Radicals Online trucks looked to move up the leaderboard. After seeing most of their trucks qualify outside the top five, Dallas Pataska would quickly make a pass on the outside heading out of Clark Curve on the first lap. The rookie driver had started in seventh place.
After clearing Cammaerts, Zalenski took advantage of the clean air on the track, setting a new series race lap record of 01:24.490.
Zalenski pulled away by as much as two seconds in the first six laps of the event.
“I think my driving was really on it,” said Zalenski. “I was able to feel the limit and just stay there.”
Behind the purple and orange machine, the battles were still intense.
After a rocky start to 2019, Aaron Smith II had started the race in third place, one of his strongest qualifying runs this season. He was holding onto fourth place when he ran wide and into the sand, allowing both Pataska and Thomas O’Leary past him.
O’Leary continued his surge up the running order after the pit window. With nine laps to go, the Radicals Online Turn Racing (ROTR) truck was gaining time rapidly on the back of James King. O’Leary’s Toyota machine pressurized King’s Chevrolet into the grass coming out of Sheene Curve. That allowed O’Leary to pass the privateer driver on the outside of Stirlings.
O’Leary would go on to gain nine positions in the race on the way to a top five finish.
Up at the front, Zalenski put together a 2018-style performance, dominating his way to his first win of the season. Zalenski’s fastest lap times were a full second quicker than the rest of the field.
He would finish more than seven seconds ahead of Cammaerts at the checkered flag. Both Radicals Online teams secured finishes inside the top five, with their three trucks. Pataska and O’Leary taking fourth and fifth respectively. LEMPELS Racing’s Erik Blixt ran a calm race in third place, crossing the line more than 16 seconds back of Zalenski.
“This is how I hoped Barber Motorsports Park would go,” said Zalenski. “I felt like I had the pace there ... I expected (Cammaerts) would be a bit closer on older tires, but we had the pace today. It was great.”
Cammaerts said after the race he wasn’t surprised about Zalenski’s pace. He expected Zalenski to eventually pick up his pace. Cammaerts also said he was not completely happy with his setup for the event.
“It handled okay, but it was clear during the race that it still had a few minor issues,” said Cammaerts. “But, it was a fun race on a fun racetrack.”
The V8 SuperTrucks World Championship will be headed to Twin Ring Motegi for Round 7 of the 2019 season . Be sure to tune into the RaceSpot TV live coverage on June 15 starting at 2000 UTC (4 p.m. EDT).