The first few rounds of the Mini Challenge have delivered some exceptional racing! All races have been very competitive with fractions of a second deciding who receives a podium place.
Round three was no exception. It was held at the 1.94 mile Rockingham International Super Sportscar Circuit on the weekend of 18/19th June. This circuit is quite tricky for MINI drivers with some very technical and challenging sections. The track has a very hard surface, which provides excellent stability, but also wears tyres down rapidly.
Fiercely Contested MINI Racing!
The Cayman Autos #21 car driven by Adam had some great qualifying laps and landed 7th position on the starting grid for race one. Unfortunately, Adam had to deal with some time penalties which were picked up during round 2 at Silverstone Circuit. He knew it would be a tough race to do well with those penalties in place.
The Cooper S class started the race as the track lights changed to green while the Cooper class began the race 10 seconds later, waved on by the Union Jack. The Cayman Autos #21 car had a brilliant start, with Adam driving superbly! He managed to quickly overtake 2 cars in the early laps of the race.
Adam’s Excelr8 teammate Max Bladon had a bit of a shaky start to the race, but quickly took the lead. He eventually claimed his seventh victory in the MINI Challenge. It was an outstanding race from Bladon, who continues to show his natural driving talent in the MINIs.
Adam spent a part of the race in a tight battle with Will Neal (son of touring car champion Matt Neal). Davey made a great challenge to Neal on Deene corner which was one of the highlights of the race.
Adam eventually finished the race in a respectable 10th position. He demonstrated some excellent driving on a challenging track and showed great consistency on the track. Davey’s best time was a blazing fast 1.40.381!
Neal & Davey Going Toe to Toe!
Sunday saw a fabulously sunny start to the 2nd Race at Rockingham – an early race start at 9.40am. On this occasion, both the Cooper S and Cooper classes started the race simultaneously. Adam was starting at 10th position on the grid, based on his result from the previous day’s racing.
Adam had a shaky start, which saw Will Neal overtake him on the 1st straight. The most frantic action was taking place at the front of the pack, with a 3-way battle for the lead between Excelr8 teammate Max Bladon, Hutchinson and Simon Walton. Fans were enjoying watching these three great drivers battle it out.
Davey and Neal were locked in a close battle further back in the pack. It was very reminiscent of the 2015 championship where there was a great rivalry between the Cayman Autos #21 car and the yellow machine of Henry Neal — Will Neal’s twin brother.
Will has taken Henry’s spot in the MINI challenge and is already showing the other drivers he means business this season! Henry has moved onto the MINI JCW class for 2016.
The Neal boys are very familiar with the racing circuit lifestyle. Matt Neal has contested in over 500 BTCC races, won 3 drivers championships, secured 160 podium places and had 58 BTCC wins since the beginning of the 1990s! The next BTCC event takes place on the weekend of 30/31st July at Snetterton Race Circuit. We wish Matt Neal every success this season in his Honda Civic type R and Team Dynamics.
Davey began to pick up the pace, brilliantly overtaking Gollin on the Tarzan and coming up on Goodall’s tail. Unfortunately, there was a nasty crash that sent two other cars into the gravel — some oil from Simon Walton’s car caused the MINIs to spin on Deene corner.
The red flag came out for the safety of the drivers and with only 4 minutes of the race remaining, the finish was called. It was disappointing for Adam because he lost some the progress that he had made during the laps before the red flag.
The incident on Deene corner caused some technical issues for Walton & Weller with questions if they would be actually able to race the last race of the day.
Max Bladon was the winner of race two — his 8th podium finish! Adam’s best lap was 1.40.087, his 6th best lap performance on lap times.
The final race of the weekend started with a grid reversal. Davey had a strong start and quickly began to move up the pack. Sam Weller managed to make it into the race, thanks to some brilliant work from his mechanics.
Max Bladon was unbeatable at Rockingham, taking first place yet again after a very controlled fight up the order. After round three in the MINI Challenge, Adam is in 7th position overall. He hopes to improve his position during round four, which is held at Brands Hatch on 16/17th July. It is Adam’s favourite track and he does very well on it. It will be the first MINI festival of the season –- an all Mini Race line up for a 2-day weekend event!
Big thanks once again to the Excelr8 team including team manager Justina and team mechanic Mikey. They do such a fantastic job of keeping the Cayman Autos #21 car on the track and performing well!