Next up for the MINI CHALLENGE UK JCW Cooper & Cooper S & the F56 Class Brands-Hatch came with a few incidents which proved costly for some of the driver’s over a Hot Weekend.
With tough conditions out on the track keeping cool inside the cars were somewhat a challenge, but grip on the tryres was even more important for good start’s and getting out in front of the field from any issues with other cars.
Rob Smith had a great Weekend fighting with Team Mate Charlie-Butler-Henderson for a grid move all weekend which resulted in both drivers getting maximum points for the Driver’s Championship Leader Board.
Eurotech Racing Driver Brett Smith was on form with his first Podium at Brands-Hatch and top step for the young man who drove a perfect race.
Rob Smith and Brett Smith below trying to fight the lead but Brett managed to hold his place for the race
His dad Jeff Smith was down with the Team who clearly fealt really happy for him, which he had to get up on the podium and shake his sons hand and congratulated before Brett got his hands on the champers for the final celebrations.
RICHLY DESERVED MINI CHALLENGE PODIUM
RETURN FOR SMITH ON SUPER-COMPETITIVE
BRANDS HATCH INDY WEEKEND
Evergreen Tyres-backed MINI Challenge racer Rob Smith made a richly deserved return to the podium in front of a huge Brands Hatch Indy Circuit crowd on Sunday, 17th July, with a highly competitive third place finish in round 12 – before adding an improved runner-up spot in round 13.
Delivering excellent competitiveness throughout the fifth weekend of the season, the MINI UK VIP Customer Team driver only just missed out on silverware in round 11 on Saturday, 16th July, by a mere 0.6 seconds after a last-lap challenge by reigning champion Charlie Butler-Henderson.
Hitting back in style in the second contest, Rob produced an excellent start from fourth on the grid to move into third place, leaping ahead of Butler-Henderson, and went on to secure a fantastic rostrum result just a fraction away from the runner-up spot.
In race three later on Sunday afternoon, an encounter which was initially red flagged due to an incident in the pack on lap two, the Telford driver claimed his second podium of the day and third of the season with another fantastically competitive top three finish. Post-race, though, a time penalty for Butler-Henderson elevated Rob into second position and his best result of the year so far.
“It’s been a long wait!”, said the Evergreen Tyres, GroupTyre Ltd and BMTR-backed racer, who entertained VIP guests from GroupTyre Wholesale at Brands, “It’s all been spot on to be honest and it’s good who we’ve beaten – we finished ahead of a lot of the guys above me in the championship so that should bring us back into contention for a possible top three at the end of the year.
“The car has been fantastic this weekend, since we got the problems sorted at Rockingham we’ve been able to work on proper changes to the set-up instead of working around the issues we’d been having up to then. We found some massive improvements, found some time on the new tyres in qualifying and how to look after them a bit better too. We aim to continue this momentum now.”
Qualifying on Saturday morning was a fantastically close and entertaining session with Rob squarely in the fight for pole position. Topping the times early on and setting the pace at the halfway point, the MINI UK VIP Customer team driver ultimately ended the run with the third fastest time – just 0.041 seconds shy of pole.
Round 11 was just as keenly contested, with Rob only just missing out on the fastest lap of the contest and coming within a lap of taking his first podium since the previous visit to Brands Hatch back in May. Holding onto third place on the run to Paddock Hill Bend at the start, the Telford racer piled on the pressure to second placed David Grady and into lap three only 0.2 seconds separated the pair.
With absolutely nothing between the lead quartet the slightest error would prove crucial, but the top four drivers continued to circulate nose-to-tail for pretty much the entire 21 lap duration. On lap 11, Rob posted the fastest lap of the race with a time of 53.002 seconds and continued to focus on challenging Grady while, at the same time, soaking up huge pressure from Butler-Henderson.
Looking all set to secure his second trip to the rostrum of 2016, the Bentley Cars Body and Trim Engineer then fell victim to a late move from Butler-Henderson at Paddock on the final lap. Ending the race somewhat frustrated with fourth place, he took the flag just 0.6 seconds shy of the podium and missed fastest lap by a mere 0.047 seconds.
Starting race two on Sunday afternoon from fourth on the grid, Rob made a great start to leapfrog team-mate Butler-Henderson and in a repeat of Saturday’s contest the lead quartet circulated with absolutely nothing between them.
Very evenly matched in terms of pace, the top four ran nose-to-tail for the duration once again with Rob piling on pressure to second placed Brett Smith while, at the same time, ensuring he kept the door closed to any potential attack from behind.
Just 0.2 seconds shy of namesake Smith into lap nine, Rob searched for a way past but the order remained set to the finish on lap 23. At the chequered flag Rob was just two tenths of a second behind the top two to double his podium tally for the season and secure a richly deserved return to the MINI Challenge rostrum. His best lap was only 0.2 seconds shy of the fastest of the race.
Beginning race three from third on the grid, Rob held position off the line and then moved into second before the end of the lap before closing to within 0.1 seconds of race leader Luke Caudle. Frustratingly, though, red flags were shown on the second tour as a result of a collision.
Racing re-started over a shortened duration of 15 minutes and, from third on the grid, Rob made an excellent start to hold the place into Paddock Hill Bend. Just 0.2 seconds behind Butler-Henderson into lap two, he stayed close behind the sister MINI UK VIP Customer Team car and on lap eight posted the fastest lap of the race – 52.900 seconds – before it was bettered by a mere thousandth.
Only 0.4 seconds adrift of the top two at that point, Rob continued to lap with identical pace to the pair ahead but with the order remaining set to the finish on lap 17 he took the chequered flag in third, before being promoted into second place post-race.
Charlie Shows he is no push over
Brands Hatch Indy Circuit and the Annual MINI Festival, what a stage to show his strengths on. After 2 podiums at Rockingham it was so nealry 3 out of 3 at Brands.
Qualifying on the Saturday morning the car felt good, there was alot of issues with other cars out on track with very little space to get a good clean lap in.
Charlie had to contend with P5 and 3rd row of the grid. Still lots to play for. The first race was awesome to watch with alot of overtaking throughout the grid but a fight to the end between the two team mates CBH & Rob Smith.
20 Laps charlie kept rob in his sights and then, going into paddock hill bend charlie put what was the most over taking move we have ever seen.
With the Slightest gap between 2 of them was not alot in it and took it with open arms. Rob Smith a profesional driver that he is did not close the gap nor block CBH but only gave him room to pass and then stayed on him until the race still fighting back.
CBH now in 3rd place and only the rest of th elap to go to the chequered flag. the boy did good and even the race commentator was commenting on the overtaking move. CHarlie was now in the lead of the 2016 MINI CHALLENGE!! The only question was would Rob play back Charlie in the next race…
The 2nd race had Charlie on the 2nd row of the grid beside his team mate Rob Smith, Would they have a battle to the end or would they play nicley? To be fair, everyone was on their best behaviour, they started with th eoutside grid position taking the lead with David Grady, Brett Smith, Rob Smith and Charlie as 1,2,3 & 4 and that is the way they ended up after 23 lap race.
At one stage Charlie could have made a move but tyre management and over driving are major issues if you want to finish all three races. Finishing races means points, and points means prizes…
Race 19 the last race of the JCW weekend showdown was soon up. what a fantastic afternoon for all the teams. A grid draw for the start had CHarlie on the front row next to Luke Caudle. Unfortunately, the race got of to a bad start with a collision of 2 cars on the pit straight that had the race red flagged.
All the cars had to reform up on the grid whilst the barriers were being repaired and the track cleaned. 30 mins delay not good but a great restart for Charlie who nipped in behind Luke. Luke is a former British Kart Champion and he knows how to drive a wide car. with tyres going off there was no way charlie was going to sacrifice points for a silly move. He came hime in second place content with a large points haul had a firm grip on the championship.
But the Stewards had noticed that Charlie had been a little too eager on the restart as he movedover his start position, a 10 second penalty was subsequently handed out and that brought him down to a lowly eighth. Still he leads the Championship with 524 points and a 23 point lead.
A positive weekend for Neil Newstead at Brands Hatch Mini Festival
Neil Newstead headed to his local track last weekend, looking forward to the fifth round of the MINI CHALLENGE at Brands Hatch. This weekend was part of the MINI Festival and would see large crowds, lots of racing from various types of MINIs and local support from Sponsors, Family and Friends. Neil took the opportunity to celebrate his Daughters, Madison’s birthday by adding stickers to the race car on the Sunday which read “Happy Birthday Madison. Love Daddy xx”.
Neil’s race car was in good shape for the weekend. The previous race at Rockingham had showed the performance was back in the car and Friday’s testing displayed good pace so Neil was confident when Saturday morning’s qualifying began.
This confidence was demonstrated on track as Neil managed sixth place, just two tenths off the pole time and his best qualifying position this season.
A very hot Saturday afternoon saw the first race of the weekend for the JCW MINIs. Neil struggled with the tyres and dropped 4 places, crossing the finish line in 10th place. A good result but he knew he had the pace to improve.
Sunday would see two more races for the JCW class and the crowds were out in large numbers to watch the exciting action to come. Neil didn’t disappoint and starting in 10th, had a great start and immediately gained three places, up to 7th by the end of the first lap. On the forth lap, Neil passed Jono Brown and began hunting down Luke Caudle. Pushing hard, Neil achieved the fastest lap of the race and finished in 6th.
The final race of the weekend, Neil struggled with the start to select second gear on the cars sequential gearbox and was immediately passed by Lawrence Davey and Henry Neal. On lap 7, Chris smith pulled a great move by darting from one side of the track to the other approaching Druids and made the pass on the outside, going into Graham Hill bend.
Struggling with the tyres, Neil began to lose pace and then a tap from BTCC driver, Jeff smith into Graham Hill Bend saw Neil drop another place to finish the race in 12th.
Overall, this was a great weekend for Neil and Oakfield Motorsport. It really showed what pace is in the car, and the team are at the brink of perfecting the cars set up. A few refinements are needed and with some testing prior to the next race at Oulton Park on the 20th August, it should be dialled in ready for some more exciting action.
“It was really good to have local support from friends, family, the team and our sponsors to support me and to celebrate Madison’s birthday”
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