It was an exciting few days for Rebecca in MINI Challenge this weekend at Silverstone. Friday started in a hopeful fashion with a good start to testing. Rebecca was picking up pace in the early morning cool session. However things started to head in the wrong direction. There was a bit of bad luck as the gearbox reared a gremlin, the selector refusing to give the team anything but 3rd gear. It took Rebecca out of the game for the following two sessions. She managed to get onto the track for the final session, which put her in a position to secure a qualifying time on Saturday morning of 1 minute and 6 seconds. She was on the pace of the rest of the pack, albeit not quite the leaders yet, and felt excited for the race.
After a battle with another competitor and some overtaking, Rebecca seemed to be in a strong position in race 1 however without fully mastering the quickest way to drive these cars yet, Copse took the better of her in the heat of battle and it was off the circuit! There was no damage. It is unusual for Rebecca to leave any circuit, hence why she has a reputation as a quick safe pair of driving hands, however in a bid to try and get to grips with the quickest way to drive these cars, Rebecca is pushing harder and harder. This means over stepping of the limit can occasionally occur. She was one of several drivers that did not finish the race and many of them were sliding their cars around the corners, traditionally not a quick way. However with front wheel drive, as the MINI is, a lot of throttle is required to correct the tail sliding. This is the opposite of what Rebecca has been hard wired to drive; cars such as Porsche and KTM have very different ways of driving compared with the JCW MINI. Despite this, Rebecca’s laptimes were in the field of current, ex and hopeful BTCC drivers so she is definitely holding her own in a fiercely competitive championship. That said she would like to be further up the busy 20+ car grid so is determined to truly master this little touring car. “With a bit more seat time and practice I know I will be just as competitive as I am in the cars I’m used to. I really enjoyed Silverstone and it’s starting to really make sense now. I’m so grateful to be given the opportunity to drive in MINI Challenge and am blown away by the team’s professionalism and expertise every time”, said Rebecca. Rebecca’s MINI UK car is run by Excelr8 Motorsport in Norfolk. These MINIS may look cute but the sequential gearbox and suspension dynamics make it a true touring car race machine, though for an attractively smaller budget! The races are highly entertaining for spectators as the MINIS trade positions and sometimes slide around the corners, battling for places. All the action can be viewed on Channel 4 in a highlights programme as well as on Motors TV.
Race 2 and 3 saw strong driving from Rebecca and two finishes. She is looking forward to putting into practice everything she has learnt from this weekend and applying it at Brands Hatch for the Mini Festival on 16-17 July. You can buy tickets here.
The MINI JCW has a sister on the road and Rebecca will be test-driving this soon so watch this space!
Photography by Marc Waller.