CHALLENGE CHAMPIONS IMPRESS IN PRIZE DUNLOP BTCC TESTS
MINI CHALLENGE champions both past and present impressed during their prize British Touring Car Championship tests at Snetterton, which were arranged courtesy of series tyre supplier, Dunlop.
Newly crowned JCW champion James Gornall was joined by 2018 Cooper Pro champion Kyle Reid – who had to postpone his prize test from last year due to work commitments – for the day at the Snetterton 300 circuit, where both drivers were given a taste of life in the BTCC at the wheel of a Motorbase Performance Ford Focus RS.
BTCC regular Ollie Jackson was on-hand to provide guidance to the drivers, and both performed admirably during their respective sessions.
Gornall, who added this year’s JCW crown to an impressive list of championship titles – including British GT, Formula Renault and the BMW Compact Cup – said his time in the 265bhp MINI prepared him well for the touring car.
“Getting to drive a BTCC car is a dream come true,” he said. “Two reasons I chose to race in the MINI CHALLENGE were to learn about racing a front-wheel-drive car, and for the possibility of this test. I quickly felt comfortable in the Focus. The Dunlop tyres, as used in the MINI CHALLENGE, allowed me to push even though the track temperature was very cool. The JCW cars prepare you very well in learning about car control, and they feel quite similar to a BTCC car in their behaviour.”
Scotsman Reid – whose domination of last year’s Cooper Pro championship also earned him a trip to the Daytona International Speedway as the winner of the Sunoco 240 Challenge contest, rewarding him with a seat in the IMSA GT race that supported the Rolex 24 Hours – added: “The touring car actually wasn’t too far removed from a CHALLENGE JCW car, so it wasn’t as big a learning curve as I’d expected. The one issue I did have was being sat so low in the car – because it was Ollie Jackson’s car and he’s much taller than me I struggled with vision a little. But the times were good regardless and it was a great experience to have.”
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey