MINIS POISED TO JOIN BTCC BILL
Msvr category could take clio cup’ s place
The Mini Challenge has emerged as the leading contender to assume the vacant support slot on British Touring Car Championship race weekends from 2020, Motorsport News understands.
With the Renault UK Clio Cup ceasing to run after the 2019 season, BTCC organiser TOCA has been searching for a direct replacement to ensure that a suitable tin-top feeder series continues to form part of the race undercard.
MN’S sources have confirmed that the Mini Challenge and TOCA are close to a deal, and an announcement could be made during this week’s Autosport International show in Birmingham.
The Mini Challenge has already forged strong links with the BTCC, with many past and current touring car drivers – such as Rob Collard, Paul O’neill and Matt Neal – having taken part in the 265bhp two-litre turbocharged JCW class in recent years. A range of BTCC teams have also been regular competitors in JCWS, such as Team Dynamics, Eurotech and Power Maxed Racing.
The JCW category – which houses the fastest, top-level Mini machinery – has run as a support to the SROpromoted British GT Championship since 2017.
Mini Challenge promoter Antony Williams wouldn’t be drawn on how close an announcement was, but did add that running alongside the BTCC would be something of interest for his championship.
“Of course, if we got the chance to race alongside the BTCC, then that’s something we’d have to look at very seriously indeed,” Williams told MN.
“The BTCC weekends are arguably the most popular and well-attended fourwheeled motorsport events in the country, so to have the Mini Challenge be a part of that would be great.
“For the last two years we’ve had a great slot alongside British GT, which has definitely helped to raise the championship’s profile. We’ll see what happens over the next few years.”
MN’S sources also suggest that any deal could have wider-ranging effects for the other Mini Challenge classes. With the JCW Championship currently being run across 17 rounds split over eight race weekends, that format would likely be retained, freeing up two BTCC fixtures upon which the lower-powered naturally aspirated 1.6-litre Cooper Class cars could compete.
Williams added: “We’re keen not just to promote the JCW class, but also the Coopers, which have been the foundation of the Mini Challenge since its formation in 2002. We’re always looking for opportunities to put the Cooper Class on the best stage possible.”
Minis could soon be appearing with BTCC