Charlie Butler-Henderson returned to form in the MINI Challenge season opener at Donington Park last weekend (23rd-24th April), as he began his title defence as MINI UK Brand Ambassador. A race one victory stood him in good stead as he leapt to the top of the championship standings.
With limited time in his new F56 JCW Mini prior to round one, Charlie arrived at a very cold Donington Park in Leicestershire, eager to defend his reigning championship title. As qualifying ended on Saturday, he landed in fourth place, as the 32 car field readied themselves for the first race.
A swift start soon gave Charlie the upper hand he needed, as he exited turn one in second place. However, cold rear tyres soon caught him out when he dropped to eighth place. A red flag briefly paused the action, but as the grid reformed in their original starting positions, Charlie enjoyed a second chance. After 10 laps of wrestling the Donington Park circuit the chequered flag fell in favour of a CBH victory, and the perfect start to his 2016 campaign.
Race two was swiftly abandoned due to an accident further back in the field, however the grid gathered themselves for a third and final race later on.
The third outing provided a bit more of a challenge for Charlie. Once again immense pressure presented itself in the form of a competitive 29 car field, but it was no match for the reigning champion. Despite his best efforts he was unable to disrupt eventual winner Nathan Harrison. A second place result awaited him this time around, but it was enough to secure the joint championship lead as the MINI Challenge fraternity waved goodbye to Donington Park.
“What a way to start the season,” said Charlie. “I’m obviously keen to defend my title, and I know we have a strong package around us, but to win the first race and to leave Donington as championship leader was astounding. I am over the moon.”
The next round of MINI Challenge will take place at Brands Hatch on 7th-8th May. You can continue to support Charlie throughout 2016 with his #ChallengeCharlie campaign. Follow him on twitter for more information www.twitter.com/CharlieBH_