With four races completed in the 7-round Winter Mini Challenge, this weekend’s grand finale looks set to be a nail-biting climax as a multitude of drivers are all in with a chance of winning overall series honours plus the separate ‘0-Plate’ trophies for the three races across Saturday and Sunday, not to mention the Mini 7 Racing Club’s long-standing Sevenoaks Cups for all points tallied at Brands Hatch in a season.
So with all four Mini classes running together off the same grid the on-track permutations will certainly keep the lap charters and calculators busy!
In the performance-packed 1293cc Miglia category, the top six in the standings are all former class champions, with former BTCC titleist Andrew Jordan atop the entry by just 1 point from Rupert Deeth and Aaron Smith, with the likes of Jeff Smith, Kane Astin and Colin Peacock all in with a shout too. Either way, expect nothing less than dizzying pace from these frontrunning Mini masters.
Dan Lewis and Huw Thomas head the invitation Libre cars, their respective 8-port and 16-valve A-Series variations having been at home on the longer straights of Silverstone, although around the tighter, undulating Brands bowl expect to see the 5-porters closer to the pace, Richard Colburn having already secured the main National title in his example.
For the longest-established Se7ens which originally started out as 850cc in 1966, it might seem that a 20 point advantage for recent ‘National’ title winner Connor O’Brien will be insurmountable, but with only 5 of the 7 rounds to count then that gap could easily be closed if others in the now 1.0-litre ‘Heritage’ class can score the big points.
Mike Jordan for one will be aiming to leapfrog the series leader having lost out overall to O’Brien in the main Challenge, while the likes of Joe Thompson, Glen Woodbridge, Spencer Wanstall and newcomer Tom Mills all have the potential to upset the rankings.
Entries in the 1275cc feeder S-Class have rocketed in recent times, so expect a strong line-up here too.
Last year’s ‘National’ champion Michael Winkworth starts as favourite and holds a narrow advantage over Damien Harrington, the latter having taken the main 2022 Challenge title, while last season’s Winter champion Ryan Taylor will be hoping to defend his crown but faces the likes of Matt Ayres, Fraser Hack and Chris Prior who have all been on top form this season.
LAP RECORDS (1.2079-mile ‘Indy’ circuit)
Miglia: Endaf Owens 0:54.221 80.20 mph 22 August 2021
Libre: David Franks 0:54.800 79.35 mph 25 August 2018
Se7en: Jeff Smith 0:58.727 74.04 mph 13 November 2021
S-Class: Damien Harrington 0:59.597 72.96 mph 7 August 2022