JCW OULTON PARK PREVIEW - MINI CHALLENGE

Rob Smith says he’s going “all guns blazing” for victory on home turf this weekend as the MINI Challenge JCW title fight rolls into Oulton Park.

Smith was a major player in the title battle last season and was the first man to win a race in the new generation F56 JCW MINIs.

However, he has endured a mixed campaign so far, but returned to the podium last time out at Brands Hatch after getting the better of championship leader and MINI UK VIP Team-mate Charlie Butler-Henderson.
Smith says the boost of returning to the top three has fired him up to fight for race wins and a top three place in the championship. He currently sits seventh in the points.

I’ll be going all guns blazing at Oulton because I want that win this season and it’s a bit of a triple-whammy of a home event for me,” says Smith. “I work at Bentley in Crewe and my family home is within a few miles of the track and I have main sponsors in Liverpool, so it’s a big weekend for me to perform on.”

This year has been tough as we’ve had myriad little issues that have hurt us in the races and we’ve spent half of the season ironing out kinks in the car. Things like being down on power or gearbox gremlins and even the power steering packing up. Brands was the first time the car had no issues and I was right back on the pace so hopefully we’ve turned a corner with it now.”

I could show pace in qualifying over a single lap, and I’m 4-1 up on Charlie in that score, but the races just haven’t gone my way. But I have a good feeling about Oulton.

It’s a real old-school circuit with gradient changes and a great mix of slow and fast turns, but there it’s all about bravery. At some corners like Cascades and Druids you just have to take the car by the scruff of the neck and haul the time out of it.”

On dropped scores I’m only a race win outside of the top three, so that’s the aim. I think the title is beyond me with Charlie being so consistent out front, but I’m not going to back off and help him win the title just yet. Not while there’s still good points to fight for.