Shayne Dee­gan talks us through his amaz­ing de­but Mini Miglia sea­son.

Mini Magazine - - Contents -

Com­pet­ing up front in the Mini Miglia for­mula, the Mini 7 Rac­ing Club’s top­tier cham­pi­onship, is far from easy. There’s fierce com­pe­ti­tion from driv­ers who’ve raced and tuned Minis for decades, in cars that have been con­tin­u­ally de­vel­oped for years. Take Peter Bald­win’s iconic orange and white Miglia, a car first built in the early ‘90s when Rover still sup­ported the cham­pi­onship. Peter de­vel­oped the car through the 1996 sea­son and it’s been honed on track ever since, tak­ing the Miglia ti­tle a record seven times, the fi­nal cham­pi­onship com­ing in 2013 with Peter aged 72!

Short of Peter get­ting back in the car, how­ever, the chances of it tak­ing an eighth Mini Miglia cham­pi­onship looked bleak. That was un­til Novem­ber 2015, when a young racer by the name of Shayne Dee­gan booked in to race a spe­cial non-cham­pi­onship event in the Bald­win Mo­tor­sport Miglia at Snet­ter­ton. Some­how he’d jumped straight into the Mini from his Citroen Saxo, bat­tled for the lead of the race with 2015 Miglia cham­pion Kane Astin and took the win. Dee­gan’s pace was im­pres­sive, but it wasn’t un­til the first round of the 2016 cham­pi­onship at Brands Hatch that feath­ers would re­ally get

ruf­fled. He’d some­how qual­i­fied three-tenths of a sec­ond clear of the field for race one, and over half a sec­ond clear for race two. It was in­dica­tive of the sea­son to come – 16 rounds and al­most six months later, Dee­gan has had one of the most suc­cess­ful Mini rac­ing sea­sons on record. He’s achieved a max­i­mum points score, won all but two races, taken all but one pole po­si­tion and set five new lap records in the process. We sat down for a quick catch up with Shayne af­ter the dust had set­tled, to see what’s next on the cards for the 2017 sea­son.

Have you raced in Minis be­fore?

Yes, I orig­i­nally started rac­ing a 998cc Au­to­grass Mini when I was just 12, so that must have been 2007. The fol­low­ing year I be­came the youngest ever Ju­nior Cham­pion, and I man­aged to win the cham­pi­onship twice more be­fore mov­ing to cir­cuit rac­ing in 2012. Then it was over to rac­ing Citroen Saxos with the 750 Mo­tor Club. It went pretty well too - sec­ond in 2013 then I won the cham­pi­onship back-to-back for the next two years. My par­ents both raced Au­to­grass and are ex-Na­tional and Bri­tish cham­pi­ons, so I must have picked it up from them; they’ve been a great sup­port all the way.

How did you get to race Peter’s Miglia?

My dad’s busi­ness, Re­gency Au­tos, has four­wheel aligned the car for the past few years. Peter would come over and re­quest it how he wanted the set-up, so that’s how it orig­i­nally came about. I’d like to have raced my own car, but then I don’t know any­where near as much about the set-up as Peter. I could go out in test­ing, say if it was un­der­steer­ing or over­steer­ing and he’d know the car so well he’d sort it out per­fectly.

What makes you so quick?

A lot of the grasstrack rac­ing has helped with car con­trol, es­pe­cially in the lack of fear and abil­ity to slide the car around the cor­ners. When the car steps out on the rear end, you need to keep the throt­tle pinned and have con­fi­dence in the car that if you do end up in a slide it’ll pull you back out again. With Minis, even on the slick tyres, you need to slide to go fast on the limit. I never ex­pected to do quite so well in the first year though. I thought it would be close up front and peo­ple would be much closer by the end.

The car must play a part too?

I think it’s 50/50 re­ally. The car hasn’t changed much in 12 years, al­though with the other driv­ers in the car it was never at the same level. I don’t want to sound big-headed about it, but a lot of the speed was down to my driving. We also had the right car and the right man in Peter to run me for the year. There’s not a lot he doesn’t know about mak­ing a Mini go quickly.

Who’s quicker, you or Peter?

Aha, well… Peter said even back in the day when he was prop­erly on the pace I would have been quicker. I’d have liked to have had the chance to race with him 10 years ago though. There were some real quick driv­ers out there this year, many ex-cham­pi­ons, yet it was only Ru­pert Deeth who re­ally gave me a run and pushed me to the line at Snet­ter­ton. We thought they’d all catch up by the end.

What’s your plans for 2017?

I’ve got a drive in the Cook­sport Clio Cup car for next sea­son, start­ing with a 24-hour race in Dubai at the Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit. The Clios are pricey, so al­though I’d love to come back and de­fend my Miglia ti­tle I’ll prob­a­bly only be able to manage one or two races. Peter’s try­ing to per­suade me to do it again, as there’ll be some real fast driv­ers like Ash­ley Davies pro­gress­ing from the Se7ens. I’d like to keep this mo­men­tum go­ing into the Clios, but it’s a dif­fer­ent ball­game. We’ll see what hap­pens - the ul­ti­mate aim has to be tour­ing cars. Since the Au­to­grass Mini it’s al­ways been my dream to be paid to race.

Pho­tog­ra­phy Stephen Col­bran and Matthew Bar­ring­ton

Shayne Dee­gan took the ac­co­lade of very fast driver in a very fast car, and ab­so­lutely dom­i­nated 2016’s top-tier of Mini cir­cuit rac­ing.

The car re­mained un­changed from when Peter Bald­win last won in 2013.

The most suc­cess­ful rac­ing Mini of all time?

At Snet­ter­ton with Ru­pert Deeth and Dan Wheeler. 2014 Miglia cham­pion Deeth was the clos­est to catch­ing Dee­gan all sea­son, but his pace was largely un­matched.

Shayne’s off to the Clio Cup next, but may re­turn to Minis.

Peter has been there to help all sea­son.

Ready and wait­ing for the off at Cas­tle Combe.

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