CA­PAC­ITY GRIDS FOR NEW MINI CHAL­LENGE MA­CHINES Hike in in­ter­est for new F56 JCW car leads to big­gest en­try for 10 years

Motor Sport News - - Racing News - By Rob Lad­brook Photos: David Young Pho­to­graph­ics, Jakob Ebrey

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.”

CB-H has tested F56

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