MI­NIS POISED TO JOIN BTCC BILL

Msvr cat­e­gory could take clio cup’ s place

Motor Sport News - - News - Pho­tos: Gary Hawkins, Jakob Ebrey

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

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