Charlie Butler-Henderson got his bid for a second MINI CHALLENGE JCW Championship off to a near-perfect start with a bumper points score over Easter weekend at Oulton Park.
MINI UK Brand Ambassador Butler-Henderson – the 2015 JCW champion – leaves Cheshire with the championship lead after two thrilling races, during which he scored third place in the first and victory in the second.
CB-H began the weekend strongly, lining up fifth in what was a difficult qualifying session, punctuated by two red flag stoppages, meaning clear laps were a rarity.
In race one Charlie successfully managed a clutch issue to get a lightning start and vault up to second place in the early laps, before piling the pressure on race-leader Mark Wakefield. Conditions weren’t easy, with Charlie’s car running wet Dunlop tyres on a track where a dry line was rapidly appearing.
Brett Smith did manage to dislodge CB-H from second, but Charlie then built a solid gap back to Max Bladon to secure third.
“Before the race my clutch began slipping so I had to wait on the grid with the car in neutral and then build the revs up, find first and dump the clutch to start,” said Charlie. “The tyres were turning to jelly mid-race as they were overheating so third place is a solid result as I wasn’t going to take any silly risks. I was also keen to sit and watch how Mark was defending to scope out the competition.”
Race two was more straightforward. With the top four finishers reversed, CB-H lined up on the outside of the front row with Bladon on pole alongside him. But a second rapid start from Charlie helped his white and yellow JCW in front before Old Hall, and from then he never looked back.
“On the warm-up lap I was watching Max working hard to warm his rear tyres, whereas I knew I needed all the grip at the front to try and beat him into the first corner, so I just worked on bringing the fronts in,” said Charlie. “For the first few laps I knew I could defend while I got the rears up to temperature, and from then on I managed to pull a gap.
“It’s been a near-perfect weekend. I came in saying I just wanted to score solid points, and if I had a shot at a win I’d be fighting for it. So it’s mission accomplished. This championship is all about consistency, and now I’ll be carrying this momentum into the next races at Rockingham.”