Triumphant return to the driving seat for CBH
Charlie Butler-Henderson enjoyed a successful return to the driving seat at Donington Park last weekend (25th-26th April), after an absence of three years. Returning as part of the Oakfield Motorsport outfit to contest the MINI Challenge UK Championship, Charlie claimed three podium finishes, including victory.
After sampling the car just twice prior to round one at Donington Park, Charlie was keen to see how his new GEN 3 Class machine would fair in race conditions. Three years away from the driving seat meant Charlie was more than keen to make his comeback a reality, and after a painstaking few months his dream came true.
Despite being on the back foot compared to some of his rivals, Charlie headed into qualifying optimistic, and came out of the other side with a fourth place start for race one. Following a superb start, sudden rain fall caught many unaware, however with experience on his side Charlie launched into attack mode.
An attempt to pass for third place into McLeans was soon thwarted, and on slick tyres on a wet track Charlie found himself sideways. However, quickly composed he soon saw his opportunity to emulate the manoeuvre into the chicane towards the end of the lap, moving him into third place.
Despite battling an overheating gearbox for the duration, Charlie held on to claim third place and a podium finish.
A fifth place start for race two gave Charlie a good view of the first corner. On a roll from his success in race one, a fired up Charlie made the best of another good start to chase down his rivals from the word go. After closing in on the top four he managed to make his mark, passing them one by one in a series of moves at Coppice, until he found himself in control.
Unable to be stopped, Charlie led the way to the chequered flag, to claim his first victory in only his second race in a new car and championship.
The race three grid is formed by picking a number out of a hat, and with number six selected it made a reversal of the top six. Starting sixth gave Charlie a challenge, however as he rounded turn one he found himself second.
After a brief slip to third place, he managed to get back on par with his main challenger. As the pair rounded Redgate (turn one) and headed down the challenging Craner Curves, a brave manoeuvre around the outside saw Charlie cling to second place before edging away for another podium finish.
Charlie’s next racing adventure will steer him to Brands Hatch in Kent during 9th-10th May.
“I have been looking to get back behind the wheel for such a long time, but budget restraints have stopped that somewhat,” said Charlie. “Joining forces with the Oakfield Motorsport team was the ideal option. They are professional, they know the championship and the cars extremely well. And with Bill Sollis as team coach it couldn’t be better.
“We have had a perfect weekend at Donington Park. Three podium finishes in my first three races, including a race win, I couldn’t ask for much more. I need to say a massive thank you to my sponsors and everyone who has contributed to and supported me to get to this point.”
CAMILLA DAVINA TEMPLE COURT