‘But­ler-hen­der­son starts ti­tle de­fence with a win’

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

Reign­ing Mini Chal­lenge cham­pion Char­lie But­lerHen­der­son and Nathan Har­ri­son shared the race wins at Don­ing­ton Park on a week­end the or­gan­is­ers would prob­a­bly rather for­get.

Driv­ing stan­dards were called into ques­tion af­ter races lit­tered with red flag stop­pages and the can­cel­la­tion of an en­tire round af­ter a multi-car ac­ci­dent. But, when racing fi­nally did break out, there was much to en­joy from the 255bhp, 30-car JCW grid.

Har­ri­son is a star in the mak­ing. Of that there is lit­tle doubt. The for­mer Bri­tish kart­ing cham­pion dom­i­nated the Cooper Class last year and se­cured pole for his first ap­pear­ance among the tur­bocharged cars.

But­ler-hen­der­son lined up fourth for the first race, but the red flags flew be­fore he could do much when mul­ti­ple cars tripped over each other at the Craner Curves. CB-H made no mis­take at the restart and jumped past Har­ri­son and early leader Chris Smith be­fore lead­ing al­most from start to fin­ish. Har­ri­son shad­owed him in sec­ond with Smith third.

The first at­tempt at race two was an un­mit­i­gated dis­as­ter. Driv­ers com­plained of a lack of rear tyre heat in their Dun­lops from Satur­day, so two green flag laps were brought in for Sun­day’s races. But when Bence Balogh was el­bowed across the grass at full tilt and help­lessly slid back across the track at Mcleans on the first lap, the re­sult­ing tan­gle ac­counted for mul­ti­ple re­tire­ments. The red flags flew again and, with a heavy clean-up op­er­a­tion needed, the cars were sent back to the pad­dock.

MSVR ini­tially resched­uled the race to take place at 1900hrs, but even­tu­ally canned it due to timetable con­cerns ( see Racing News).

That meant race three ef­fec­tively be­came round two, with the grid de­cided by fin­ish­ing po­si­tions from Satur­day. But­ler-hen­der­son started on pole with Har­ri­son along­side, and this time Har­ri­son made no mis­take, slip­ping into the lead at the Old Hair­pin and not look­ing back.

But­ler-hen­der­son shad­owed him for much of the race, but throt­tled back when light rain be­gan to fall. “You can’t win a cham­pi­onship on the first week­end so I’m play­ing the long game and tak­ing no risks, es­pe­cially af­ter how this week­end has gone for some!” said CB-H. David Grady took third, ahead of Chris Smith.

The Chal­lenge’s com­bined S and Cooper Class grid did man­age all three races, and pro­duced a hat-trick of Cooper wins for Max Bladon. Josh Gollin pro­vided stern op­po­si­tion in all three. Bladon even beat a five-sec­ond track lim­its penalty in the last out­ing to se­cure his tre­ble.

Steve Cocker should have won all three S class races, but re­cur­rent turbo is­sues lim­ited him to just the first, while Scott Jeffs did the dou­ble in the other two.

But­ler-hen­der­son (r) and Har­ri­son shared the wins

The 30-car JCW field had some is­sues, but still starred

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