Challenging Mini challenge races at Silverstone for Jo Polley

Jo waits to race (Photo by Marc Waller)

Jo waits to race (Photo by Marc Waller)Silverstone was the venue for the Mini Challenge last weekend and Jo Polley headed there to compete in her Cooper class car.

Last time out, the Cooper cars had a meeting to themselves but this time the three classes were back together with the New F56 and the JCW class cars also on the same grid. Although the three classes compete at the same time, they all have their own race with their own podium so Jo still had the same rivals as at Rockingham. The new F56 cars however are considerably faster than the Cooper class cars and so when it came to the races, they were likely to be a factor when they come up to lap the Coopers in the closing stages.

Jo doesn’t have much experience of racing at Silverstone and none at all of the newer Grand Prix layout used this weekend in her current car. It was going to be a very steep learning curve but she had made some gains at the previous round at Rockingham and so there was reason to feel positive.

Saturday had qualifying in the morning and it was wet. Jo now had the additional headache of learning the circuit in wet conditions. With a near vertical learning curve Jo wasn’t expecting much and eleventh on the grid was the result. Jo hoped the rain would clear up as forecast before that afternoon’s race.

Sadly the weather forecasters were very wrong, not only had the rain not stopped but it had got considerably worse. The visibility on track was terrible and several of the front runners in the F56 class went off as they hit standing water on the track. Jo decided it was sensible to concentrate on staying on track. There were still two races to go and crashing out of this one could potentially make a very short weekend. So she held position and used the race as a learning experience hoping for better conditions in the two races on Sunday.

Fortunately Sunday morning was dry with the rain having stopped overnight. The circuit was intitially damp first thing in the morning but by the time Jo headed out on track for the first race of the day, the track was dry. She got a good start off the line and got in a battle with the car ahead of her. She stayed in touch until the F56 cars came round to lap the Cooper class cars. They came across Jo at just the wrong moment for her and it meant she lost a huge amount of time as she had to pull over to let them by. There was now a big gap to tenth place and so she crossed the line in eleventh.

Mirror - signal - race Jo battles in race three (Photo by Marc Waller) Conditions were awful in race one Jo battles in race three (Photo by Marc Waller) Qualifying was wet Jo battles in race three (Photo by Marc Waller) Race two was dry Jo battles in race three (Photo by Marc Waller) Jo battles in race three Jo battles in race three (Photo by Marc Waller)

The third and final race was the third race from the end of the day. Jo got a good start once again and got into a battle with her nearest rivals on the grid. She passed one as he ran wide going into the complex and then her next rival up the road made a mistake putting himself into Jo’s reach. She raced alongside him for much of the next lap and it looked like it could be anyone’s race. But just when it looked like Jo would break into the top ten for the first time this weekend, the F56 cars were back to lap the Cooper field. Jo managed to not lose as much time as in the second race but still found herself in eleventh once the field had gone through. Tenth place was just up the road but there now wasn’t time to catch him and she took eleventh once more.

It had been a tough weekend for her, on a track that isn’t her favourite;

“It’s been a Bit of a tough weekend results wise, but I’ve had plenty of learning of the Silverstone circuit which is not one of my favourites. But I got three eleventh place finishes, more points and no damage so it’s onwards to Brands Hatch now in two weeks time. Thanks as ever to Dale Racing, ‪DudmanGroup,‬‬ Kick Motorsport and all my other sponsors.”

The Brands Hatch round is at the Mini Festival which is fast becoming a must visit event for Mini enthusiasts. Jo likes the circuit much better and she’ll be pushing to move back up the field, possibly even to a podium finish on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. By Marcc Waller


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