Snetterton 300, Rd.2: Pole, 1st, 3rd and 2 x FL’s

Snetterton 300, Rd.2: Pole, 1st, 3rd and 2 x FL’s

QUALIFYING
Pole at Snetterton: Mini Challenge JCW Championship leader James took pole position for Race 1 at Snetterton, by an impressive margin of 0.583s, thereby securing an extra 6 points for the achievement. “That’s a great result,” said James. “I felt I had a better lap but got held up in traffic, but the time I had done was good. But then I saw that Lewis was only 0.2s behind me and just thought ‘Man, I need a bigger gap, this isn’t comfortable. Qualifying is one thing, but the races tomorrow are quite another. I’m starting in the position I want to be in, but we’ll see how it goes when we’re all racing in a pack toward turn one tomorrow.”

RACE 1
James looked very relaxed on the grid for the first race, despite a wasp invading his office! At the lights he got away rapidly from pole and immediately opened up a lead over his rivals. From then on things looked fairly straightforward. The gap steadily increased throughout the race itself, culminating with James taking the chequred flag 8.792s ahead and securing the fastest lap of 2.03.331s.

James: “That was a great race, I enjoyed it a lot. The start was pretty tight and I could see that I wasn’t getting much of a gap over Lewis, so I just concentrated on keeping things consistent and precise, trying to put in identical lap times, as I could see the train forming behind him and if I kept the pace up he couldn’t get past. It’s been a great start to the year so far, but race two will be a very different situation, starting in the middle of the pack on the reversed grid. Good thing there’s plenty of places to overtake here. I might have to shut my eyes and hope for the best heading into turn one though…

RACE 2
‘The Fast and the Furious’ film title could easily be the apt description for race two! Starting in P10 – top ten reverse grid from race one – was obviously going to prove more of a challenge for James. Pole sitter Newsham dropped out before the race even began with what looked like a mechanical problem, effectively moving James up to P9. Once the race got underway things were very tight with close battles being fought throughout. James moved up several places, back a few after losing a bit of momentum through no fault of his own, before once again moving forward behind Davidson and Harrison. Rain began to fall and the first three places remained the same right to the end of the shortened race. Once again – considering the congestion – James did extremely well to secure the fastest lap with a time of 2.06.563s.

It’s another podium so we’re keeping the run going, plus I got a handy haul of points for pole and fastest laps this weekend,” said James. “My car took a bit of a beating in that one, but it was a mix of aggression and the conditions.”

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

Images & Videos by kind courtesy of Mini Challenge

Next MINI CHALLENGE UK meeting: 8/9 June – Silverstone GP

Snetterton 300

Snetterton 300

Pre-Snetterton thoughts:

Oulton Park showed me who I’m going to be up against this year for the championship, after all I’m here to try and win it, and I reckon it’s going to be a tough fight,” he says. “In every championship – even the British Touring Car Championship – when you really break it down there are only ever five or six drivers in the frame for the title. And I reckon that’s exactly the situation in JCWs this year. We may have a fair few winners over the year, but I reckon there’s a handful of drivers who will be up there come the end of the season.”

Oulton was a great weekend for me. Contrary to what people think we didn’t do a load of pre-season testing, just a single day in the damp. What we did do is go through the car to identify all of the little bits that needed doing to make it a race winner. We found the dampers needed quite a lot of work and then it was just small tweaks here and there. It’s also helped that I now feel much more comfortable with front-wheel drive, because it is different when you’ve only raced rear-wheel-drive cars. Things like getting the car to turn in during braking zones to ensure you can brake later. It all just takes a little time to figure out.

I’m a fan of the Snetterton 300 track,” Gornall adds. “I’ve done well there racing in other categories and I like the fact it has a mixture of slow, technical and fast corners. It really makes you concentrate. People say you lose the most in the high-speed stuff there, but it’s the slower, technical bits where the time is really lost. You really have to be on it, hustling the car around and making sure you get the best exits possible onto the two long straights. It’s a great challenge.

New Partner: Azanti

New Partner: Azanti

James: “I am very pleased to welcome our latest partner Azanti to JIG Racing. Azanti’s philosophy and their premium non-alcoholic beverages fit perfectly with motorsport. You should never drink alcohol when driving, be it on the road or on the race track, and Azanti’s range of non-alcoholic beverages let you enjoy yourself knowing that you are safe to drive. They are also some of the coolest looking and tasting drinks you will ever have!”

Website: https://www.azanti.co.uk

Maiden JCW victory for James at Oulton Park

Maiden JCW victory for James at Oulton Park

QUALIFYING
At the season opener of the MINI CHALLENGE JCW at Oulton Park, James pushed Dan Zelos all the way for Pole during Saturday’s qualifying session.

James added: “I’m a bit disappointed with second in truth as I had two other laps where I was at least 0.3s up but caught traffic and got baulked in the final sector on both. But it is what it is, and we’ve got some racing to do on Monday.”

RACE 1
James claimed his maiden MINI CHALLENGE JCW victory in the season opener at Oulton Park after emerging on top of a thrilling three-car battle for the lead in the closing stages.

James: “What a great race, I was getting a little frustrated as I could see Dan (Zelos) was struggling for grip and I was all over him, but couldn’t find a way past. I didn’t actually know he had a penalty until the last few laps, so I thought we were genuinely fighting for the win. I could see Nathan closing in and just though ‘Oh just get on with it!’ and managed to pressure a mistake and get through. The car felt great, so that’s good news for this afternoon.”

James drew the number 6 for the race two reversed grid

Race 2
James was restricted to second, having taken the best out of his tyres. He added: “I got put on the grass once or twice, and just couldn’t find a way around Calum (King) for the lead. If I’d got clear I could have been gone, but I just trashed the tyres and couldn’t do anything about Jac (Maybin) near the end. Still, a win, a second and the championship lead isn’t a bad way to start the year!”

James also received the Sunoco award for fastest lap of weekend. Not a bad start to James’ 2019 campaign all being told!

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

Images & Videos by kind courtesy of Mini Challenge

Next MINI CHALLENGE UK meeting: 18/19 May – Snetterton 300

James will be joining the JCW Championship

James will be joining the JCW Championship

Former British GT Champion, James Gornall will be joining the MINI CHALLENGE for the 2019 season, having completed in a couple of rounds last season.

Gornall has been racing cars since 2003 and has enjoyed much success in everything he’s raced including British Formula Renault single seaters, Britcar 24h, British GT Championship and more recently the BMW Compact Cup but the MINI CHALLENGE is his first move to front wheel drive racing.

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