A Busy but positive first Mini challenge round for Jo Polley

Jeff and Brett got into a father and son battle (Photo by Marc Waller)Jo Polley and the Eurotech team began their 2017 Mini challenge JCW last weekend at Oulton park.

This year the JCW class is racing at British GT weekend and so the team setup in the busy British GT support paddock.

There was an added complication of the weekend clashing the the BTCC. This means with Jo and Jeff Smith both at Donington park, they had to work out some way of getting to Oulton Park to qualify. Fortunately the timetables for the two events didn't clash and a helicopter was arranged to ferry Jo and Jeff to Oulton and back again. The drawback being they would get very little seat time in the mini's and would have to be straight on it once they got there. Brett Smith however, in the third of the team's cars would remain at Oulton the entire time and therefore was probably the teams best hope for a good result.

Fortunately for Jo and Jeff, the helicopter plan worked perfectly and they arrived at Oulton just time time for qualifying. Unfortunately for them, their session was interupted by red flags and when they did get on track there was a lot of traffic. This left Jo in twenty third, Jeff in sixteenth but Brett was up in fourth after getting a clear lap. Then it was time for Jo and Jeff to head back to the BTCC to complete that meeting.

By Monday morning they were back and ready to compete. The first race of the weekend was a wet one. All three Eurotech drivers got a great start and started to make up places. Jo was feeling much more confident in the car this year after some successful winter testing and despite the difficult conditions she was already making good progress.

By the flag Brett was an excellent second, just seven tenths of a second off the win. Jeff made it up to eighth and Jo had made up three places to twentieth. She was on the pace of the two cars ahead of her and if the race had been longer she could have well made up more positions. She was feeling confident of an even better race later in the day.

Conditions were much better for race two, with a mostly dry line emerging. Brett and Jeff got into a father and son battle before a slide at cascades slowed Jeff and allowed several rivals to get between them. The leading pack was very close and by the flag, Brett was fourth and Jeff eighth.

Behind them, Jo had been making great progress as expected and spent a lot of the race not that far behind Brett and Jeff in terms of time. When Jeff had his slide, Jo was then not far behind him at all, things were looking very positive when a couple of laps from the end, disaster struck.

Jo is feeling confident after successful winter testing (Photo by Marc Waller) Jeff had a slide of his own (Photo by Marc Waller) Brett was lucky to get away with this slide (Photo by Marc Waller) Race two was strong for Jo before the car failed (Photo by Marc Waller) Jo with her car (Photo by Marc Waller)




Jo's car had picked up a horrible vibration;

“I thought the wheel was going to come off, it was that bad!” she said afterwards.

It would have normally been bad enough to pull into the pits and retire but with a couple of laps until the end of the race, Jo chose to keep going, losing positions as rivals caught her ailing car. She crossed the line in twenty first, not a bad result in the circumstances but a lot worse than she was expecting if the car had been working fully.

It was a good ,strong first round today. In race one, I started P23 and finished P20 in wet tricky conditions. In race two I was pushing forwards and I was up to P17 but slipped back to finish P21 with a mechanical problem, not too bad on a massive 31 car grid. I'm Feeling much more confident in the car this year. Really looking forward to Rockingham in 2 weeks!” Said Jo after the weekend.

It was later confirmed that the race two problem was the failure of the tripod bearings on the driveshaft. If the race had been any longer then Jo would not have been able to finish. Rockingham in two weeks was the scene of one of Jo's stronger weekends in the Cooper class when she ran as high as fourth. With her new found confidence in the car she will be hoping for her best weekend so By Marc Waller

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