Three drivers in this year’s Power Maxed MINI Challenge will benefit from a share of an £18,000 prize fund thanks to a reworked Best of British Award.
The MINI Challenge has again teamed up with core British sponsors Corbeau, Powerflex, Luke, Showtrax, Ryan Motorsport Insurance, Forge, Alcon, DNA Tuning and Mintex to offer the bumper prize fund designed to help the progression of British talent.
For this year the net will be cast wider than ever, with one driver from each of the Challenge’s three classes – Cooper, R56 JCW and Gen 3 F56 – eligible to win a package of entry fees, fuel and tyres worth £6,000. The reworked contest means drivers will go head-to-head for the largest prize fund yet offered in the MINI Challenge, and one of the biggest available in UK motorsport.
To be eligible drivers must simply run an oversized decal of one of the core Best of British sponsors on their car throughout the season and promote both themselves and that sponsor on social media following each round. The driver that fulfils that criteria and places the highest in the championship points of their respective class will win a share of the prize.
MINI Challenge promoter Antony Williams said: “We’ve traditionally just supported a single driver with the BoB award, but with the new Gen 3 F56 cars coming in this season we feel it’s a new era for the championship and deserved a new prize structure.
“We wanted more drivers to benefit from a share of the wealth, so as to offer more recognition to racers from each of the Challenge’s three classes. We’ve worked hard to build a genuine ladder of progression within the MINI Challenge, with drivers going from Coopers into the more powerful turbocharged categories. We hope that the remodelled BoB award will encourage that by giving the winners significant financial assistance to move up a step for 2016.
“Once again we have to thank the continued support of our sponsors, who are all British companies that believe home-grown talent should be given a fighting chance to step up to the top stages of the sport.”
This year will mark the third running of the Best of British Award. The award has previously helped 2013 Challenge champion Chris Smiley test with the factory Triple Eight Racing MG British Touring Car Championship team. Last year’s winner, Lawrence Davey, received a £15,000 budget boost to move in to the Gen 3 F56 category this season.
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William Phillips will graduate into the new F56 JCW Class for his second season in the Power Maxed MINI Challenge this term, becoming the first driver to do so from the series’ foundation category.
Phillips confirmed his move to the new two-litre turbocharged MINI during the recent Autosport International Show at the Birmingham NEC. Phillips will continue his relationship with the ExcelR8 Motorsport squad. Phillips won two races in his maiden year of the Cooper Class in 2014, finishing fourth in the category points.
The 20-year-old from Milton Keynes tested the development version of the new 270bhp F56 Challenge machine prior to Christmas, and unveiled his new MAGIC Plastic-backed machine on the Pirelli stand at ASI.
“I’m really excited about this year but it’s going to be a really big challenge for me,” said Phillips, who found his feet racing in Mazda MX-5s. “When I tested the F56 I absolutely fell in love with it.
“The car is a very different animal to my old Cooper. It has a very similar platform and feel to it, so you get a nice planted feeling that inspires confidence, but as soon as you put your foot down the thing just goes. It’s got over double the horsepower so the sensation of speed is brilliant.
“The biggest challenge will be adapting to the tyres I think. Everybody said I was really good on the Cooper Pirellis last year, but with 270bhp through the front wheels the F56 will give its front rubber some punishment.
“I need to build up to this year I think so my main aim is to start bagging the points consistently towards the championship and build on each result a race at a time. I want to be in the top five before the end of the year and fighting for podium finishes as soon as I can.”
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Lawrence Davey says that he’s overwhelmed after being named as the winner of this year’s Power Maxed MINI Challenge Best of British Award worth £15,000.
Former Legends racer Davey was announced as the winner of the prestigious prize live on stage during the championship’s awards night at the MINI Plant
Oxford last Friday evening. The Best of British Award is made possible through support from series sponsors Corbeau, Forge, Luke, Showtrax, Powerflex, Ryan Motorsport Insurance, Alcon, DNA Tuning and Mintex.
Davey won the prize after coming out on top in a seven-way assessment process at Silverstone, and carrying favour with an all-star judging panel, which included current British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington.
Davey, who finished fourth in the R56 JCW Class points in his second season in the MINI Challenge this year, beat competition from outright Challenge champion Chris Knox, Neil Newstead, Luke Caudle, Henry Duprey, Hamish
Brandon and Cooper Class champion Shane Stoney. Davey now has the choice of a £15,000 budget boost to continue in the R56 JCW Class, a discount of the same amount from the new F56 Challenge car, or a fully funded test in a British Touring Car Championship machine.
“I’m absolutely blown away to have won the Best of British Award,” said Davey.
“The level of competition on the shootout was so high, it’s a real honour to have won it.
“Part of the shootout assessment was to drive some laps with Colin [Turkington] alongside me in the car. To calm myself down I actually pretended he wasn’t there and drove how I usually would. I had a massive slide into Copse but caught it then heard “What a save that was!” from beside me, and that’s when I snapped back into it and realised he was there! It was a great experience to work with a driver to Colin’s calibre.
“I haven’t decided what to do with the prize fund yet. My options for next year were getting quote limited, but having this prize really opens up some doors for me and now a move into the new F56 is very much an option. I can’t thank the MINI Challenge organisers, sponsors and judging panel enough.”
MINI Challenge promoter Antony Williams added: “This year the standard with all of the finalists was very high and it was no easy decision choosing Lawrence as the winner. But the judges felt he offered the best all-round package. It wasn’t just about being the fastest or the fittest, it was about how the driver presents themselves both in the paddock and drives their profile forward with social media. It was about being a great driver and also offering some value back to our partners who have been so generous to supply us with this unique prize. They felt Lawrence was a worthy and deserving winner.”
Chris Knox became the first driver in the history of the Power Maxed MINI Challenge to lift the John Cooper Challenge Trophy for a second time.
Scotsman Knox collected the prestigious trophy during the championship’s lavish awards ceremony last week, which was this year held at the home of MINI UK – the MINI Plant Oxford.
Knox becomes the first driver in the 14-year history of the championship to lift the outright champion’s John Cooper trophy for a second time, following on from his first title in 2011.
“It’s such a special feeling to be the overall champion again, especially seeing as my deal to race only came about a few days before the start of the season,” said Knox. “After round one I didn’t think I’d be winning it this year. But I worked hard with the ExcelR8 team and my backers SL Group to make it happen. What a season.”
The Cooper Trophy was just one of a long list of prizes handed out to the most successful drivers in the championship this year. Neil Newstead- who celebrated his 40th birthday on the night of the awards - picked up second in the R56 JCW
Class with Luke Caudle getting the third placed trophy.
In the Cooper Class Shane Stoney grabbed his second successive champion’s trophy. “We had so much experience to draw on for this year having won the title with Coastal Racing this year,” he said. “I felt so comfortable with the team and the results just came my way. But the level of competition was so much higher this year with more Coopers on the grid. It may have looked straightforward on paper, but it was one of the toughest seasons of racing I’ve had.”
Josh Gollin celebrated second place in the class points ahead of Ricky Page, who fought off injury to snare the final piece of silverware.
There was also a range of special awards handed out. Alan Taylor claimed the Directors’ Cup for the JCW Class, with Rob Sims Racing’s Simon Walton taking the same award for the Cooper division. Grace Williams was awarded with the Cooper Ladies’ Cup after a hard fought season.
An emotional Matt Hammond was named as Rookie of the Year for 2014, having saved diligently for four years just to fund his way on to the grid. “It’s so special to be recognised because this has been the culmination of a long-held dream for me,” he said. “I was inspired by Tommy Byrne’s book and it made me want to become a racing driver. There’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears just to get to the grid and I’ve had an amazing year. I want to be back next season, but I’ve got a lot more hard work to do to get me back here.”
Lastly came the historic announcement of Lawrence Davey as the winner of this year’s Best of British Award. Click Here for more on this story.