CAPACITY GRIDS FOR NEW MINI CHALLENGE MACHINES Hike in interest for new F56 JCW car leads to biggest entry for 10 years
This year’s Mini Challenge Championship will feature the biggest grid for almost a decade after a boom in interest in the new F56 JCW cars.
After strong reaction over the winter, a total of 32 of the new 255bhp two-litre turbocharged cars have signed up to the series, which begins at Donington Park on April 23/24 – the highest first round entry since 2007.
The new-generation cars were introduced to the championship last year, with 16 turning out for the opening race at Donington Park. That figure grew to 19 by the final round at Snetterton.
The healthy F56 JCW grid is backed up by 16 cars in the lower-powered Cooper Class and seven in the R56 JCW class for the older cars. Total registrations for the championship number 55 drivers.
Mini Challenge promoter Antony Williams said: “Interest in the championship, particularly the F56 cars, has been amazing. Introducing a new car to a championship is always a risk but I think we’ve struck the right balance between power, drivability and cost. The cars are set-up to be pointy and tend to oversteer more than understeer so they’re a hoot to drive and appeal to graduates from both front- and rear-wheel drive.
“We opted to fit a pure motorsport ECU also, which allows drivers to do their own diagnostics and make it easier for privateers to run cars so we have a wide range of professional teams, arrive-anddrive packages and privateers.”
The Challenge will also include an Open Class this year for any cars not eligible within the technical rules. It is expected to slot on to the back of the combined R56/ Cooper grid, with the F56 cars racing solo.
“There are lots of modern Minis around, such as Scottish Mini Cooper Cup cars and old Challenge cars like the R53 supercharged ones that need places to race,” added Williams. “This opens things up to a wider range of drivers.”