Multiple MINI CHALLENGE race winner Rob Smith has today, 9th March, confirmed his return to the championship’s headline JCW class for a third consecutive season. 2017 will mark the second season with the factory supported MINI UK VIP team for the Evergreen Tyres, Grouptyre and BMTR sponsored racer, alongside 2015 champion Charlie Butler-Henderson.
Despite taking a pair of race victories and ten podiums over the course of the last two seasons, Smith has ended both campaigns 7th in the championship standings as a result of an extended run of bad luck. For 2017 however, the 24 year old Bentley Motors Body and Trim engineer and his team have their sights set on reversing that trend.
“I’m delighted to be returning to the JCW class with the MINI UK VIP team for 2017”, comments Smith, “There’s no denying that we have the pace to win the championship, there hasn’t been a single round over the last two seasons where we haven’t been in contention for silverware at some point.
“The missing ingredient has been some good fortune. The last two seasons have shown that the key to winning the championship is consistency, and we just haven’t been able to replicate that.
“I’m confident that we can turn things around for 2017 and I’m hoping to pick up as many wins and podiums as possible, but having said that, the main aim is never to finish outside the top six. If we can do that I think we stand every chance of fighting for the title.”
2017 marks a significant moment in the history of the MINI CHALLENGE as the championship joins the support bill for the British GT championship, one of the most high profile series in UK motorsport. In addition the championship will also receive live and free-to-air television coverage on all formats courtesy of Front Runner TV, alongside extended highlights packages on Channel 4.
“The live TV deal with Front Runner is a fantastic addition to the profile of the championship and another selling point to what is already one of the most attractive propositions in UK motorsport” adds Rob. “The sight of 30 plus JCWs racing door handle to door handle is bound to be entertaining, and I hope the Evergreen Tyres backed car will be getting plenty of coverage at the front of the field.”
The opening round of the British GT and MINI CHALLENGE JCW campaigns take place at Cheshire’s Oulton Park International Circuit on the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the 15th and 17th of April.