2019 Mini Challenge JCW Champion!

2019 Mini Challenge JCW Champion!

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2019 Mini Challenege JCW Champion!

Snetterton Showdown

James: “I’ve been in my share of championship deciders, and the biggest thing I’ve learned from them is that you can’t control anything, so don’t plan for anything – what happens, happens, I’m not feeling any pressure, I’ll just approach it like any other round – turn up, drive fast and try to win the thing! The points gap I have isn’t big enough to fully relax, and the last round at Donington showed how quickly things can turn around. We had to rebuild the gearbox on Friday night after sixth gear failed, and then had to reattach the gear linkage in the pitlane during qualifying – yet I went on to be the top points scorer that weekend, when Nathan had his troubles and we saw a big points swing. There’s a load of variables, including the weather, but I don’t mind that as I like the wet.

Qualifying:

James: “I got a bit of skip in the car on that final lap, which cost me a few tenths, otherwise I could have had top spot I think. But it was always going to be close with so much at stake. The start later on will be interesting. Nathan does like to back cars up, so perhaps he could try that and if so I’ll need a good counter. But if I finish second to him all weekend then it’s still job done, so I’m not overly concerned.”

Race 1:

James: “That was a tough race and the car didn’t feel particularly good. It was skipping around a lot and proving quite hard to hold on to. I also had a fair few lock ups on the brakes, and one of them sent me into Nathan, and I’m sorry for that and glad it didn’t cause anything and we both continued. But I was quite happy in third until Dan started getting larger and larger in my mirrors. We’ll have to look at the setup for tomorrow I think.”

Race 2:

It just doesn’t get closer than that, I’ve never had so much stress in a championship showdown… ever!” said James. “I was already crying, and then I had a blast of champagne in my eyes to help! It just means so much. We’re a small team of privateers fighting against the big boys, and this is such a tough championship. It’s still sinking in that we’ve done it. The race was just frantic. I knew if I finished second to Nathan and scored enough on the fastest lap points that I could do it, so I didn’t want to risk anything. Plus I don’t think I could pass him anyway, he was like a rocket! After we finished I didn’t even know if I’d won it until we worked out who was fastest and when. It’s just amazing!

So to the future…

I joined the MINI CHALLENGE to learn front-wheel-drive racing as one day I want to do the British Touring Car Championship. But right now I don’t have a pot of gold, so who knows… perhaps I could come back and try to defend this title? It’s hard enough to win one, let alone two… but I’d certainly have an absolute blast trying.

Driver Standings: https://www.minichallenge.co.uk/mc-driver-standings/

Images & Videos by kind courtesy of Mini Challenge & CSUK

Donington Park GP, Rd.7

Donington Park GP, Rd.7

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Donington Park GP… revisited

Qualifying:

James: “I accelerated and everything felt fine, but when I went to change down from fifth the gearbox just wouldn’t have it,” said Gornall, who cruised back to the pits, where a gear linkage problem was diagnosed. “The linkage had just popped off, so we had to get that fixed, and luckily we had time to get back out and running again

With just nine minutes of the session to go James’ first flying lap was good enough for second fastest, and his second effort put him on pole. “I definitely didn’t expect the session to end like this, especially with the way it started!” he said. “There was a slight moment of panic, but then it was just a case of getting back out and getting on it. The tyres switch on after a lap around here so it was probably the perfect time to get a lap in. It’s great bonus points for me in the championship.”

Race 1:

James: “I essentially decided to make things interesting by trying to throw it away all on my own. The rear started to slide at the apex, and then the car hit a bump and it was a pretty wild ride from then on. I got back on, but had Dan all over me by that point. There’s an absolute ton of points still to play for this year, so it’s still anybody’s championship. But it is coming down to that point in the season where wins for me are more crucial, and this was a big one. It was a really tough race, not helped by me throwing it off, but luckily I got back on the track in time and did enough to hold on for the win.”

Race 2:

James: “The race was total chaos, and I have no idea how I’m on the podium. It was mad at the start and I really didn’t expect Max to get slowed up so much and it just caught me out. I carried on but wasn’t sure if anything was bent, and then it all kicked off in front of me at the Craner Curves, and I somehow avoided it all. Those last few laps were crazy, too. I made a move on Rory and went across to defend and suddenly there was a hit and then all hell breaks loose. I actually feel really sorry for Nathan. He didn’t deserve that at all.”

Driver Standings: https://www.minichallenge.co.uk/mc-driver-standings/

Images & Videos by kind courtesy of Mini Challenge & CSUK

Next MINI CHALLENGE UK meeting: 19/20 October – Snetterton 300

Brands Hatch GP, Rd.6

Brands Hatch GP, Rd.6

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RACE 1:

RACE 2:

James: “That was really bizarre, but I could see the trouble brewing in front of me, so I had a feeling something was going to happen. It was getting quite feisty between them because they were so close, so I was trying to bide my time but Lee was making life really hard for me and I made a silly mistake which put him right on me and cost me time to the leaders. But it’s a great result and the car definitely felt better in that race… looks like the changes to the flux capacitor really paid off.”

Driver Standings: https://www.minichallenge.co.uk/mc-driver-standings/

Images & Videos by kind courtesy of Mini Challenge & CSUK

Next MINI CHALLENGE UK meeting: 14/15 September – Donington Park GP

BRDC Member

BRDC Member

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James: “It is with great pleasure that I announce my selection as a Member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club. It has been my ambition to join the Club since I began my journey in motorsport, with membership offered to only a select few and by invitation only.”

“The BRDC is undoubtedly the most exclusive Club in motor racing and it is a privilege to be selected alongside some of the most successful racing drivers from Great Britain and the Commonwealth. I look forward to integrating myself into the Club and wearing the BRDC insignia with pride. I would like to thank all those that have helped me on this incredible journey and with my selection for membership”.

Website: BRDC

Brands Hatch Indy, Rd.5

Brands Hatch Indy, Rd.5

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QUALIFYING:

James qualified P4 and wasn’t at all keen on the way his car was working. James: “It felt like a bag of nails,” he said bluntly. “We probably left too much of a dry setup on it and it was all over the place. It wouldn’t turn in, then it would try to oversteer and I just couldn’t get on the throttle. I got about one good lap, and thank goodness I got that!”

RACE 1:

James celebrates his third victory of this year’s MINI CHALLENGE JCW campaign during an epic opening race of the Brands Hatch MINI Festival weekend!

James: “That was such a hard race, I had a few massive moments and was on the lock-stops a few times! Ben is so good at defending so I knew I had to take my chance to pass him when I had it, but even when I got past I had a whole bunch of cars pushing me really hard. I really had to work for that. The yellow flags at the end at least meant I wasn’t going to get lunged at that part of the track. But I just had to hold my lines and I’m chuffed to bits with that result.”

RACE 2:

James: “It was a tough race and the start was so close. Dan got a great run on the outside of me into the hairpin and I had to defend hard, but then the rear got loose and we touched and Nathan managed to slip past. It was just one of those things. Then with the safety car Nathan got on the power probably only a tenth of a second sooner than me, but it opened that gap up and there wasn’t much I could do. The car felt OK, but we’re still chasing something in the setup.”

RACE 3:

James: “The car just wasn’t very good in that one, and we have to find out why. I was struggling for grip and got hit a fair few times, so that may have contributed I guess.”

Driver Standings: https://www.minichallenge.co.uk/mc-driver-standings/

Images & Videos by kind courtesy of Mini Challenge & CSUK

Next MINI CHALLENGE UK meeting: 3/4 August – Brands Hatch GP