OUTLON PARK COOPER PREVIEW
Cooper Am & Pro Classes
The time is almost upon the MINI Challenge Family, for the eagerly anticipated pilgrimage to the Oulton Park MINI festival, one of the highlights of their racing calendar. Joining them this time the JCWs, out to put on a full show.
The last time we saw the Coppers Kyle Reid did a ‘Lewis Hamilton’ at Silverstone coming in 2nd place, having a trophy cabinet full of 1st place awards from the year so far.
This was a tricky race with some grassy moments for the whole field; Robby Dalgleish managed the race well and was ecstatic to secure his first win of the season. Simon Walton was seen in the pits with a very big smile on his face after two visits to the podium
These three are the ones to watch as we head into the weekend of qualifying and two races. Waiting eagerly in the wings for that split-second mistake will be Andy Jordon, (no, not BTCC Andy Jordan but MINI CHALLENGE’s own), Richard Newman and Jacob Andrews looking to get their time on the podium.
Tightly packed behind them in true MINI CHALLENGE style will be will be James Goodall, Lydia Walmsley and Mark Cornell. The clock is ticking for Charlie Cooper (The son of Michael John Cooper who started the MINI CHALLENGE in 2002) who is likely to upset a few people if he gets his car on the track. As could Ethan Pitt and Toby Goodman who also had some car trouble last time out.
In the Am Class the battle continues for Alex Nevill, Neal Clarke and Andy Godfrey for the Class lead. With the fastest lap time out Adrian Norman is set for another trip to the podium, a higher step is certainly within his grasp, watch this space! All of the Am class are showing great potential with the race craft growing as the season progresses putting on a good show for the spectators.
The Oulton Park Circuit was clearly designed with Mini’s in mind, perhaps not but it definitely suits the MINI CHALLENGE cars. With the dive into Old Hall Corner being the first challenge for side by side cars, three abreast to navigate the excitement begins. By the time they reach Cascades they should have the pecking order sorted out. If the heatwave continues we are in for some great racing and sweaty drivers with a nice dry track. Don’t forget the sun cream!
With 180BHP per ton delivered however they like; full of power and some ballast awarded to the top performers to even the playing field; we should see nine or ten cars on the track this weekend. It does its job, last time we saw Will Fairclough in his R56 struggle to keep up with Jono Davis in his well- sorted R53. Andy Montgomery found himself on the podium twice with two P3’s. I’m not sure who was happier him or his daughter who joined in on the celebrations congratulating him, “Daddy, you have finally achieved something!”, the quote of the weekend.
Chloe Hewitt continues to show great form on the track but is still struggling with budget issues, hindering testing and that important set up time which falls within the 15-minute qualifying session. Kevin Owen is showing a game of speed giving Rob Austin a run for his money in the last race at Silverstone. Alan Lee was in P3 for qualifying demonstrating his speed, just needs to secure some liquid luck to keep it up. Another driver to watch out for is Neil Brown, can he transfer his speed when it counts? He had an off in practice, ending up with a pesky bonnet that just would not stay shut among a few other front-end issues.
Samantha Bowler showed she has overcome her excursion at Snetteron, putting in some quick laps in both qualifying and race 1 at Silverstone. An unfortunate issue with a blown Head Gasket during the last race hindered her power and therefore her position at the finish.
Close racing is guaranteed in this class of competitive drivers. If all goes well mechanically any one of the drivers could secure a place on the podium. Will our rookie driver Will Faircloth keep hold of his lead? Can Rob Austin keep the pressure on? Only time will tell, one thing for sure is, to win you need a reliable car, a talented driver and a lot of luck. All of the drivers have shown talent and skill throughout the season; the cars are well sorted reliable… most of the time but who will have luck on their side around the park? Stay tuned for some exciting racing to come.