A brief history of the short-lived Indian Tata Prima Truck Racing Championship
by Vadim Stepanov, Formula143.org
Truck racing is a rather specific, if not a strange, kind of racing. When big trucks, smoking and pushing, rush along narrow circuits, intended for nimble racing cars, it looks impressive, but it seems that they are somewhat out of place. Nevertheless truck racing has become very popular in the World. In Europe, besides the ETRC (European Truck Racing Championship), there are well established national championships in UK and France, less known but competitive series in Spain and Netherlands. Rest of the world does not lag behind. Truck racing is very popular in Brazil, there is a series in Mexico, a truck Grand Prix in Columbia, national championships in Australia and New Zealand. Attempts to revive European-style truck racing come up from time to time in the US. There were events in China and India. The latest is probably most exotic and strange truck racing series.
For me, the impetus for information search about Indian truck racing was the Tata racing truck promotional model released by Eligor in 2016. This truck raced in the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship in 2014-2017.
So, what is this T1 Prima Championship?
Indian Tata Motors company launched its heavy truck Prima in 2008. In order to promote the sales of the updated version of the vehicle, Tata established T1 Tata Prima Truck Racing Championship in 2014. Indian manufacturer aimed to change the general public perception about trucks and truck drivers in India and Asia, and they said this particular initiative will bring in some glamour to the otherwise bland trucking industry.
The T1 championship lasted for four seasons, in 2014 – 2017. Actually it was just a single event series which was held in the second half of March each year at Buddh International Circuit, the venue of the Indian Grand Prix in 2011-2013, situated in National Capital Region at Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
In first two years the Championship was simply the race for the pilots invited from the British Truck Racing Association (BTRA) championship. In final two editions of the series a race for local drivers was added.
The T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship races featured identical Tata Prima purpose built racing trucks, prepared at the Tata Motors plant in Jamshedpur. International races consisted of training, qualifying and two heats – shorter one was called Sprint Race or Super-Qualifying in various editions of the event, and the longer one was the Main Race or the Final Race. In the first edition of the championship the final standings were defined by the sum of points scored in two races. In next three editions driver who won the final race was declared a champion. The part for local drivers had different format with shorter races. International drivers were divided into teams, to represent Tata partners and dealers. Trucks of each team had specific color scheme. The color scheme of the trucks used in national races was unified.
The Prima truck used as race truck is a 4038.S model with massive power output of 370 BHP @ 2100 RPM and a top speed of 110 Km/h. The trucks were modified based on the BTRA guidelines and has been certified by Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI) after having undergone stringent security check-ups. The 6.5L 6-cylinder engine in the standard form produces 100 bhp less. Tata says that the gain in this power is due to a bigger and much efficient turbocharger that is attached to the engines in the T1 trucks. The Eaton 9-speed manual gearbox remains the same as in production truck.
Tata Prima race truck, 2014
2014 T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship
The inaugural T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship was held on 22nd and 23d March, 2014 at the Buddh International Circuit. The 5.125 km long circuit, designed by German racetrack designer Hermann Tilke, has been shortened to 2.1 kms for this race. Thirteen international drivers representing BTRA including himself have been selected for the event by Steve Horne (Organizer and Technical Advisor of the BTRA). The event had two races, beginning with a qualifying race. The final race was 15 laps long and had a rolling start.
A 5-lap Sprint Race was won by Stuart Oliver, with Dave Jenkins and David Ball 2nd and 3rd. The championship concluded with an action-packed 45 minute final race witnessed an audience of over 25,000 enthusiasts. Oliver again was victorious winning the debut championship. Jenkins and Matthew Summerfield came 2nd and 3rd .
The Champion Award was granted to the winning driver on the basis on combined points from both the races. The Team Championship was awarded on the basis of the combined scores of the two drivers of the respective teams from both the races.
|Pos.||#||Driver||Team||Race 1||Race 2||Total|
|1.||1||Stuart Oliver||Castrol Vecton||15||25||40|
|2.||10||Dave Jenkins||Tata Technologies Motor Sport||12||15||27|
|4.||9||David Ball||Castrol Vecton||10||10||20|
|5.||7||Steven Powell||Dealer Warriors||5||12||17|
|7.||12||Steve Thomas||Dealer Daredevils||4||6||10|
|9.||24||Graham Powell||Dealer Daredevils||0||4||4|
|10.||30||Paul Alan McCumisky||Allied Partners||2||1||3|
|11.||2||Ben Horne||Dealer Warriors||0||2||2|
|12.||15||Richard Collett||Allied Partners||1||0||1|
|13.||17||Brian Burt||Tata Technologies Motor Sport||0||0||0|
|3.||Tata Technologies Motor Sport||27|
British Stuart Oliver, winner the inaugural T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship
Oliver, 50 years old at the time, is the most successful British truck racing driver. He debuted in BTRA series in 1994 and won 12 British titles (in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). In 2004 he also won the FIA European Truck Championship. In 2008 he also raced in saloon cars, in the British Touring Car Championship in-between truck events when there was no fixture clash.
Stuart Oliver, T1 Prima Truck Racing Champion 2014 said “It was an amazing experience. The track is beautiful and trucks were performing great. I am thrilled to have won the first ever Truck racing championship in India, among the enthusiastic crowd who were cheering each time we drove past the grand stand. I see a lot of potential of this sport here and would love to come back and race again.”
Ravi Pisharody, executive director, Commercial Business Unit, Tata Motors commented on the successful weekend: “We have had a tremendous day here for the truck racing with a really pumped-up atmosphere and we have been delighted by the response received for the launch of our debut truck racing event. Tata Prima trucks proved their racing prowess and build quality in this high intensity race. We are extremely delighted with the performance of T1 teams and drivers who have been supportive throughout the event. We would like to congratulate the winning team, sponsors and all participants for making this first of its kind, debut racing event, a historic day.”
An event at the Irungattukottai Race Track in Chennai was discussed as second race for the next year, but it did not realized.
2015 T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship
For the season two of the T1 championship in March 2015 the Tata Prima race trucks were boasted 10% more (upto 130 km/h), a new aerodynamic design, with 10% increased acceleration and 10% weight reduction.
Again, 12 BTRA drivers were invited. The format of the event held on March 14th and 15th 2015 was changed a little bit. Two free practice sessions and 20 minutes qualifying session were held on 14th March. This will was followed by an 8 lap Super Qualifier and a 16 lap Final Race on Sunday, March 15.
2015 teams and drivers
|Team||Driver 1||Driver 2|
|Tata Technologies Motor Sport||David Jenkins||Steven Powell|
|Castrol Vecton||Stuart Oliver||Oliver Janes|
|Cummins||Matthew Summerfield||Simon Reid|
|Allied Partners||Steve Thomas||Chris Levett|
|Dealer Daredevils||Ben Horne||Paul McCumisky|
|Dealer Warriors||Graham Powell||Richard Collett|
Brian Burt, Dave Ball, and Steve Rothery were in the preliminary list, but were replaced by Chris Levett, Oliver Janes and Richard Collett
Steve Thomas representing Team Allied Partners grabbed the lead at the end of Qualifiers on 14th March and managed to maintain the same at the end of Super Qualifiers on race day, 15th March, as well. But in the very first turn of the Final Race Stuart Oliver passed him and led until the chequered flag at the end of lap 16. The race was red-flagged when in the second lap Paul McCumisky spun out of control to crash in the concrete barricades at turn one. The trucks were called back to the pits, and complete restart was given. McCumisky and David Jenkins crashed again in the same turn and retired from the race. Till the very end, the fierce competition between Oliver and Thomas continued – they finished in just 0.7 second difference at the checkered flag. Steven Powell came 3rd in 0.6 second.
|1.||7||Stuart Oliver||Castrol Vecton|
|2.||33||Steve Thomas||Allied Partners||+0.698|
|3.||9||Steven Powell||Tata Technologies Motor Sport||+0.607|
|4.||Chris Levett||Allied Partners||+10.761|
|6.||Graham Powell||Dealer Warriors||+1.554|
|7.||Oliver Janes||Castrol Vecton||+1.280|
|9.||Richard Collett||Dealer Warriors||+0.813|
|10.||Ben Horne||Dealer Daredevils||+5.197|
|99||Paul McCumisky||Dealer Daredevils||DNF|
|David Jenkins||Tata Technologies Motor Sport||DNF|
Winners of the 2015 championship: Stuart Oliver (center), Steve Thomas (left), Steve Powell (right)
Stuart Oliver, T1 Prima Truck Racing Champion 2015 said “It was an amazing experience. I think one thing I want to say is a big huge thank you to all the fans coming out all this way, all the flags, all the caps, everything, it made such a difference this weekend. I really, really do appreciate it. Steve Thomas & Steven Powell were phenomenal competitors. They did an amazing job today of keeping me on my toes, pushing me all the way up to the podium. ‘It means even more than the first one. I feel so blessed.”
Ravi Pisharody, Executive Director – Commercial Vehicles, Tata Motors said, “We have had a tremendous day here for the truck racing with a really pumped-up atmosphere and we have been delighted by the response received today. The Tata PRIMA race trucks proved their racing prowess and build quality in this high intensity race. We are extremely delighted with the performance of T1 teams and drivers who have been supportive throughout the event. We would like to congratulate the winning team, sponsors and all participants for making this first of its kind, debut racing event, a historic day and all of the audience for a wonderfully electric atmosphere.”
2016 T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship
For the third edition of the T1 Championship in 2016, two classes – Super Class for Indian drivers and Pro Class for international ones were established. Of course, there was no truck racing drivers in India. Tata for the first time in the world take truck drivers from the highways and made a racing driver out of them. Establisher as the first-ever T1 Racer Program (TRP) by Tata Motors, the new Indian Truck Driver Race selection and training program, was based on the company’s strategic objective of making the profession of truck driving aspirational and at the same time act as a catalyst to induct drivers into the commercial vehicles profession. These Indian Truck Drivers have been selected from a pool of truck drivers who are employed with Tata Motors’ key customers, from all over the country. With 543 nominations received, Tata used a special shortlisting criteria to select 147 racers who were trained at Madras Motor Race Track, Chennai. Finally twelve 12 local drivers were selected for Super Class through comprehensive training and selection programs. Again, twelve BTRC drivers were invited to race in Pro Class.
One of the senior Tata officials, Mr. R. Ramakrishnan, Senior Vice President commented the Tata Racer Program: “In season 1 we created history, by hosting the very first truck race here in India. In season 2, we showcased race trucks that were ‘Bigger, Better & Faster’. In season 3, Tata Motors is unfolding a new chapter in the history of Indian trucking, with a theme of ‘India to the World’ involving Indian talent, and is all set to create history yet again, in the one of the world largest commercial vehicle markets. With the T1 Racer Program having attracted over 550 nominations from our customers’ businesses, the ones shortlisted through the program today, are based on driving experience, average kilometers driven in a year, along with the experience of negotiating different terrains. We wish our 12 finalist the very best.”
Indian drivers competing in black Prima race trucks, which were identical to each other – in look, built and performance, the 12 coloured trucks competing in the Pro Class category, represented six teams. While Tata Motors Finance was a new team, the other five teams were part of the earlier editions of the championship.
2016 teams and drivers
Super Class category (Indian drivers)
|Syed Akram Pasha|
Pro Class Category (International drivers)
|Team||Driver 1||Driver 2|
|Tata Technologies||David Jenkins||Brian Burt|
|Castrol||Matt Summerfield||Adam Bint|
|Cummins||Rick Collett||Graham Powell|
|Dealer Daredevils||Ray Coleman||Simon Cole|
|Dealer Warriors||Ben Horne||Paul McCumisky|
|Tata Motors Finance||Oly Janes||Tony Smith|
In the absence of the champion of the two previous seasons Stuart Oliver, who has alleged that he was spuriously not included this year, five drivers – Ray Coleman, Adam Bint, Simon Cole and Tony Smith were newcomers to the series.
The championship was held for three days at Buddh International Circuit. Practice sessions were run on March 18th, and races on March 19th and 20th. The circuit configuration used for the race was 2500 meters. Season 3 of the Championship attracted crowds of over 50,000. Pro Class drivers competed in 8-lap first race and 20-lap Final race. As only six black trucks were available, Indian drivers were divided into two batches, each batch raced one 8-lap race.
Pro Class (International drivers)
Race 1, 8 laps
|1.||14||Mat Summerfield||Castrol||8 laps|
|4.||11||David Jenkins||Tata Technologies||5.418|
|5.||23||Tony Smith||Tata Motors Finance||9.542|
|6.||20||Ben Horne||Dealer Warriors||11.533|
|7.||22||Olly Janes||Tata Motors Finance||13.356|
|8.||21||Paul McCumisky||Dealer Warriors||16.144|
|10.||12||Brian Burt||Tata Technologies||22.615|
|11.||19||Simon Cole||Dealer Daredevils||42.899|
|12.||18||Ray Coleman||Dealer Daredevils||-1 lap|
Fastest lap: Rick Collett, 1:50.880 on lap 7.
Final Race, 20 laps
|1.||11||David Jenkins||Tata Technologies||20 laps|
|4.||20||Ben Horne||Dealer Warriors||21.206|
|5.||12||Brian Burt||Tata Technologies||31.216|
|6.||23||Tony Smith||Tata Motors Finance||38.050|
|9.||22||Olly Janes||Tata Motors Finance||40.765|
|10.||19||Simon Cole||Dealer Daredevils||1:02.201|
|11.||18||Ray Coleman||Dealer Daredevils||1:02.976|
|12.||21||Paul McCumisky||Dealer Warriors||-2 laps|
Fastest lap: Matt Summerfield, 1:50.691 on lap 3.
Matt Summerfield won the short race, but dropped back to 8th position in the final after an accident. Having finished fourth in the first 8-lap race David Jenkins went into the lead early in the final race and finished first with the very comfort gap to Rick Collett, who led the batch of three trucks. Powell and Horne finished in close battle behind Collett.
Pro Class race gallery
Super Class (Indian drivers), Batch 1, 8 laps
|1.||4||Jagath Singh||8 laps, 15:33.241|
|6.||2||Syed Akram Pasha||35.087|
Fastest lap: Rajkumar Mahto, 1:53.919 (lap 7)
Super Class (Indian drivers), Batch 2, 8 laps
|1.||4||Nagarjunaa||8 laps, 15:19.158|
Fastest lap: Nagarjuna A, 1:52.952 (lap 4)
Jagat Singh and Nagarjunaa have won the maiden race T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship, organized for Indian truck drivers, in its third edition, taking home the highest price money ever, for an Indian motorsports event. Rupees 10 lakhs (more than 12,000 US dollars) was awarded to each of the first place winners, of the two Super Class races.
The Indian racers were, by no means, slower than the international drivers. In fact their best timing of 1:52.952 set by Nagarjunaa was rather close to 1:50.691, the fastest lap by Matt Summerfield in the Pro Class. Indian driver best lap could be 10th or 11th in the Pro Class race 1 and Final, respectively.
2017 T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship
2017 teams and drivers
Season 4 of the T1 Championship was notable for invitation of racers from FIA’s European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC) competing in the championship for the very first time. The ETRC was represented by six racers from the rest of Europe, who competed in the Pro Class category alongside six British drivers from the British Truck Racing Association (BTRA), who have raced in T1 since the sport was first introduced in 2014. Among these are Spanish Antonio Albacete, three time ETRC Champion (2005, 2006 & 2010), Hungarian Nobert Kiss, two time ETRC Champion (2014 & 2015), ETRC veteran Gerd Korber, champion in 1991, 2002 and 2003, Czech David Vrsecky, two time ETRC Champion (2009 & 2010), Thomas Robineau, three time French Truck racing champion (2014, 2015 & 2016), and Stephanie Halm first T1 woman driver.
In the 4th season of the Tata Prima Truck Racing Championship BTRA drivers were represented by David Jenkins, season 3 champion, Oliver Janes, Simon Reid, Paul McCumisky Adam Bint, and new driver in the T1 series Ryan Smith. Shane Brereton was in the short list but was replaced by McCumisky.
Among the six teams five were the same as raced in the previous years – Team Castrol Vecton, Team Cunmmins, Team Tata Technologies Motorsports, Team Dealer Warriors, Team Dealer Daredavils, and one new team – Team One World Racing.
|Team||Driver 1||Driver 2|
|Tata Technologies||Nobert Kiss||Adam Bint|
|Castrol Vecton||Stephanie Halm||Ryan Smith|
|Cummins||David Jenkins||Simon Reid|
|Dealer Daredevils||Antonio Albacete||David Vrsecky|
|Dealer Warriors||Gerd Korber||Oliver Janes|
|One World Racing||Shane Brereton||Thomas Robineau|
Indian drivers in 2017 edition were divided into two categories – Champions Class and Super Class. In 2017 Tata launched the second edition of the T1 racer program (TRP 2.0), which attracted over 1000 applications from Indian truck drivers. 33 drivers, including finalists of the 2016 program, have made it through to the semi-final round. Having being trained for over three months, 20 best drivers were finally selected for the 2017 T1 Tata Prima Truck Racing Championship. The driver selected under the Champions class were based on the participation from Indian drivers in season 3 of the T1 championship, of whom 10 drivers where shortlisted. Top 10 finalists from TRP 2.0 were selected to compete in Super Class.
Champion Class drivers
|Raju Lal Gurjar||Rajasthan|
|Malkeet Singh||Uttar Pradesh|
Super Class drivers
|Gurujant Singh||Uttar Pradesh|
|Mahendar Pratap||Uttar Pradesh|
|Shivinhal Singh||Uttar Pradesh|
The championship was held on March 18-19. On 18 March the qualification round for all three categories was hosted.
Qualifying sessions in all three classes were held on March 18 in the format of short face, where the starting positions for the Sunday races were decided by the fastest lap time set during the race, but not by the finishing positions in the Qualifying Race. The starting order in the Qualifying Race was according to best times set in free practice earlier that day.
In the free practice it was Mubarik who clocked the fastest lap time of 1:50.386, a clear lead of 1.8 seconds over Pitambar who registered his personal best time of 1:52.125. Dharminder Singh came third (1:52.744), Gurujant Singh was fourth (1:52.819).
In the Qualifying Race Mubarik grabbed the first position at the first corner, but started coming under pressure from Pitambar. In an attempt to retain his lead Mubarik ran wide at the corner after the long straight and left Pitambar to take the lead. Pitambar finished first and recorded a lap time of 1:50.422 to clinch the pole position.
|3.||Shankar Kumar Singh||1:51.778|
Nagarjunaa took the lead in the Qualifying Race from the start, finished first and clocked the best time of 1:50.294. Malkeet Singh set the second fastest time. A new entry Shankar Kumar Singh clinched the third spot on the starting grid, and last year’s winner from the first race of Indian drivers Jagat Singh completed the second row.
While Nobert Kiss (1:47.881), Ryan Smith (1:48.470) and Stephanie Halm (1:48.470) posted the fastest laps in the qualifying race, penalties issued for exceeding track limits including cutting corners resulted in all drivers dropping off the top three positions. David Vrsecky was announced as the winner and pole sitter. Then came Albacete, Korber and Janes. Kiss was pushed to fifth position, Halm to ninth, and Smith was pushed to the last grid spot.
Final races in three classes were ran on Sunday, March 19. Super Class and Champion Class drivers competed in a single Final Race for 10 laps in each class, while two races were held in the Pro Class.
Pitambar started the race from pole positions and led all 10 laps, finishing a good 33,266 seconds ahead of the second placed Shivnihal Singh, who stared sixth on the grid. Gurujant Singh came third. Mubarik who was second on the grid, went out in turn three on lap seven and fell down to ninth position.
|5.||Himanshu Kumar Ray|
Nagarjunaa led the Finals from start to finish, but Malkeet Singh gave a strong fight to him. When checkered flag came down Malkeet was a little over three seconds behind race winner, and ahead of third placed Bhag Chang over 12 seconds.
Indian drivers races gallery
Pro Class Race 1
Vrsecky and Albacete got off to a good start for the 8-lap race . Behind them Gerd Korber and Oliver Janes fighted for the third place. Adam Bint running fifth contacted with Janes’ truck and this allowed David Jenkins move up to fourth. Soon Korber and then Jenkins overtook Albacete to move to 2nd and 3rd places respectively. On lap 6 Norbert Kiss trying to pick outside line contacted with Albacete and went off the track. He got stuck in the gravel with no traction. The race was red flagged in lap six after considering the safety aspects for the drivers. Vrsecky, Korber and Jenkins took the first three positions in the Race 1
Pro Class Final Race
Drivers started for the final 15-laps race according to finishing positions in the Race 1. David Vrsecky lead the race skillfully stalling Korbers’ moves. Behind them Norbert Kiss made his way through the field passing Simon Reid, Oliver Janes and David Jenkins and moving to third position. On lap 9 Kiss passed Korber and moved to second place. Down the field, there was a spectacular contact battle between Albacete and Robineau. Kiss made attempt to overtake Vrsecky for the lead on lap 14, but David didn’t give him a chance. Vrsecky crossed the finish line just 0.257 seconds before Norbert, they were neck-and-neck coming out of the last corner of the last lap.
Czech Republic driver David Vrsecky secured victory at the fourth edition of the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship competing in the Pro Class category. Nobert Kiss of Team Tata Technologies Motorsport, was the first runner-up, while Gerhard Korber of Dearer Warriors clinched the second runner-up title.
Pro Class races gallery
2017 Champoins: David Vrsecky and Nagarjunaa
Between the races, the crowd witnessed history being made by Tata Motors in India. A specially tuned Prima truck powered by a 12-litre ISG12 Cummins engine with a pumped up output of 1000 bhp set the lap record of 1:35:674 secs at the 3.1 kms version of the circuit.
In 2018 Tata Motors has decided to discontinue the T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship. India’s leading commercial motor vehicle manufacturer claims to have achieved its specific goals set for the event. Executives say the event has served its purpose of enhancing driver dignity; introducing new ways of boosting driver engagement.
Truck racing in India has so far turned out to be only a small episode in the development of this sport, but an interesting and somewhat exotic moment. And of course, this episode deserves its place in history, which this article makes up for.
T1 Prima Truck Racing Championship Record
|Season||Pro Class||Champion Class||Super Class|
|2016||David Jenkins||Jagath Singh and Nagarjunaa|
|Most titles||2 – Stuart Oliver and Nagarjunaa|
|Most seasons||4 – David Jenkins, Paul McCumisky|
|Race wins||3- Stuart Oliver|
|2 – David Vrsecky|
|2 – Nagarjunaa|
|1 – Steven Thomas|
|1 – Matthew Summerfield|
|1 – David Jenkins|
|1 – Jagath Singh|
|1 – Pitambar|
|Drivers (52)||26 – India|
|20 – UK|
|2 – Germany|
|1 – Czech Republic|
|1 – Hungary|
|1 – Spain|
|1 – France|
References and credits
In preparing this article, press releases from Tata Motors, materials from the MotorZest, Autocomponents India, India Times, Motor India, CV Commercial Vehicle, and Insidesport.in portals were used.
Photos credits: MotorBeam.com, MotorBush.com, autosarena.com, wagenclub.com