COOPER BATTLE BURSTS BACK INTO LIFE AT THRUXTON
For the final time this season, the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Trophy joins up with the BTCC package this weekend as the fight for the title resumes after the mid-season summer break.
The high-speed Thruxton circuit will play host to the Coopers for the second time in 2022, with a packed field of cars heading for Hampshire with one goal in mind.
To try and stop Nelson King’s apparent march to the title…
A double win for the Graves Motorsport driver last time out at Croft made it
seven wins from eight starts this season to cement his place at the top of the standings, with King almost 100 points clear at the top once dropped scores have been factored in.
King has also scored two pole positions out of three and has led all but seven of the racing laps completed so far; a reflection of the way in which he dominated the early stages of the campaign.
Having had the opportunity for a reset over the near two month gap, the chasing pack now returns to Thruxton looking to start closing the gap, with more than half of the season still to run in what is a busy run of races until the campaign concludes at Brands Hatch.
King’s team-mate Nicky Taylor is currently his closest challenger having scored three podium finishes so far, and he holds a slender lead over what is currently a three-way battle for third place.
The place is currently held by former champion Matt Hammond, who has scored two podium finishes for EXCELR8 Motorsport – including the first visit to Thruxton earlier in the season. Hammond will hope to break onto the top step at his home circuit, as will fourth placed Lee Pearce – who was victorious at Thruxton last season.
Hammond’s team-mate Tom Ovenden jumped into the top five in the standings having chased King home in both races at Croft, whilst Alex Solley – another former Thruxton victor – currently rounds out the top six.
Local racer Charlie Mann has managed just one trip to the podium thus far in 2022, and he will be seek to benefit from plenty of home support with his Mann Motorsport team, whilst the current top ten is rounded out by Joe Wiggin, leading rookie Jack Byrne and the rapid Alfie Glenie – currently holder of the Thruxton lap record.
Outside the top ten in the standings, Nathan Edwards is currently best of the rest and he will be in new surroundings after electing to move from MRM to EXCELR8 for the remainder of the season, with rookie driver Luca Marinoni Osborne keen to avoid the dramatic roll he suffered at Thruxton on the last visit.
Edwards is replaced at MRM by series newcomer Sam Baker as he joins forces with Tyler Lidsey, whilst there will also be fresh blood at PerformanceTek Racing as Jack Irvine joins the grid for the first time.
That isn’t the only change for the defending champions as Morgan Wroot switches over from the departing Mad4Mini team, although his previous team-mate Lauren Tayla isn’t present this weekend after electing to sit Thruxton out.
John McGladrigan is also not on the grid for the fourth meeting of the campaign, whilst LDR Performance Tuning’s Alex Jay is also a late withdrawal due to family illness.
Others to watch this weekend include Louie Capozzoli, the only person other than King to win this season for AReeve Motorsport. That in came at Thruxton in round two, although the current Rookie Cup champion finds himself running well down the championship order as a result of a penalty he picked up at Croft.
Paul Manning and Oliver Meadows have also shown strong pace in recent events as they bid to move towards the top ten in the standings, whilst Mike Paul and Ben Jenkins will be keen to replicate the seasons best results they scored at Thruxton earlier in the year.