We head to Donington Park this weekend (9-10 July) for Rounds 9-10 of the 2022 championship. We’re in high spirits, with almost 60 cars booked in, hugely competitive grids and all championship titles still very much up for grabs.
Having twice taken the Miglia title, Cambridgeshire-based Rupert Deeth holds a slim margin in the 2022 points race in his quest for a third and has so far recorded a trio of victories from the eight races so far. Running him close are Aaron Smith and Jeff Smith from Kent and Bedfordshire respectively, and although not related, they share the honour of a win apiece this season.
The former scooped a hat-track of Miglia titles between 2018-2020, while the latter is a former BTCC winner and is the reigning National and Winter Mini Se7en title holder.
Former BTCC champion and the current reigning class champion Andrew Jordan has been first past the chequer three times but having missed a couple of meetings is further down the standings, along with Welsh fabrication expert Endaf Owens who won last time out at Castle Combe on his seasonal debut.
Among the rest of the super competitive field, the likes of Kane Astin, Ben Colburn and Ashley Davies have been knocking on the door for maximum points too.
Bolstering the Miglia grids is the eclectic mix of Mini Libres, with variations on engine set-ups based on A-Series blocks.
Leading the way is veteran campaigner Richard Colburn who after a couple of early DNFs has since scored consistently in his 5-port, including a trio of class victories.
Phil Harvey has twice won the class title with a similar approach but needs some top results from here-on-in to be in with a chance of a third, while the 8-ports of Dan Lewis and Craig Cox have been rapid winning combinations on occasion but reliability can be their Achilles heel.
With three wins further boosted by extra points for fastest laps, plus four more runner-up finishes, Connor O’Brien could easily be considered as a firm favourite to take the 1.0-litre crown.
However, last time out at Combe his campaign hit a figurative bump in the road, with last-lap knocks in both races, the first earning him a grid penalty, the second a DNF on the result sheet.
This allowed former British GT champion (and father of Miglia frontrunner Andrew) to bridge the points gap despite having missed the Cadwell double-header in May, and take his race win total to four.
Similarly, Thompson picked up his first victory of the season as his main rivals clashed, adding to several other podiums but with a pair of DNFs already will need to bank on further top scores to keep up the pressure.
A trio of podium finishes sees Jo Polley currently lying second overall in arguably her best season to date, but she will no doubt be pushing to go one or two steps better if the leading trio slip up. Of the rest, Glen Woodbridge has produced frontrunning pace, while Ross Billison has been a winner in recent seasons.
Reigning class champion Michael Winkworth is set to return to the milder-tuned 1275cc ‘Scholarship’ category having been absent last time out owing to the birth of his child, and no doubt will be aiming to regain his series lead.
Matt Ayres and Jonathan Page benefited from Winkworth’s absence at Combe to notch up a victory apiece, while Damien Harrington and Frazer Hack continued to rack up high points in the aim of keeping Winkworth behind them in the points standings.
Also on the pace is Ryan Taylor, the former Under-17 champion having though suffered a few DNFs, however he did score his debut class victory at Donington last season so will be worth watching out for.
LAP RECORDS (1.9790-mile National circuit)
Miglia: Rupert Deeth 1:20.514 88.48 mph 11 July 2020
Libre: Rob Davis 1:22.041 86.84 mph 11 July 2020
Se7en: Jeff Smith 1:29.141 79.92 mph 11 July 2020
S-Class: Zack Booth 1:30.174 79.00 mph 18 June 2016