Last week she tested the car at the track so she was extra prepared for the weekend’s racing. By the end of the day’s testing she’d shaved six seconds off her time and come race day she was feeling confident.
During qualifying on Saturday morning, Rebecca was able to put in some great laps on a drying track. She put in a 2:04, five seconds quicker than qualifying, placing her 18th out of 27 cars.
The conditions started to dry out towards the end of the session but there wasn’t enough time to get heat into the slick tyres and put in a faster lap. Some drivers did make the switch to slicks and it paid off for teammate Rob Smith who put his car on pole, while others struggled to get heat into the tyres.
The whole weekend was very changeable, which suited Rebecca. She says: “I love the wet and I love Oulton. I got my first podium at this track during my second season in 2012, I started at the back of the grid and stormed my way up through the field.”
Race one wasn’t declared a wet race so everyone started on slick tyres. There was an incident early on in the race between three cars, including Rebecca’s teammates Rob Smith and Charlie Butler-Henderson. The safety car came out and stayed on track for a long time. Usually Rebecca would be informed when it was coming in but she had radio comms issues so just had to focus on keeping heat in the tyres.
When the safety car came in, a gap had been created and the concertina effect meant the field didn’t regain pace evenly. Within one lap she’d caught up and then rain started to come down. Rebecca had a moment through turn three, Cascades, but kept the MINI on track showing just how much she’s got to grips with the front-wheel-drive (FWD) car. When the back end starts to slide, the fix is to opposite lock, countering the slide combined with a lot of throttle to bring it back round, very different to the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) cars she’s been used to.
An overtake by a competitor pushed Rebecca wide on the final corner but despite coming on to the start-finish straight sideways, she was able to keep the car on track. A few cars managed to get by but Rebecca was able to catch them and overtake one before a red flag stopped the race with no restart.
After the grid walk and autograph session, the second race was declared dry and Rebecca lined up on the grid to start from 18th. It was here Rebecca noticed a number of drivers, including the son of experienced BTCC driver Matt Neal, dart into the pit lane. She says: “They were going in for wet tyres and opting to start from the pitlane, sacrificing their green flag lap. I had moments to think about what tyres would be best for the race and opted for the pitlane as well, a total of 15 of us made that decision. Although it felt like ages, my team did a sterling job of getting those wets on quickly ready for the race.”
Rebecca joined those cars ninth in the queue meaning she started from 20th overall. When the remaining eleven cars on track started their green flag lap, the cars in the pitlane were released. There was no chance to warm the tyres but Rebecca needed to be on pace right away to catch the pack of cars on slicks.
With her team encouraging her from the pitwall, Rebecca stormed through the field. She went from 20th to 8th in just five laps and was battling with the other cars out on the wet tyres. She even got to dice with the driver who had coached her the previous week. This was the only coaching session Rebecca has had in the MINI, and it helped her to understand the mechanics of the grip with the baby touring car.
On the penultimate lap Rebecca’s brakes locked and she went straight on at Shell hairpin, ending her race.
Despite not achieving the results she might have wanted, being able to storm through the field up to 8th after just four race weekends in the JCW MINI just goes to show what a true competitor Rebecca is. She’s got to grips very quickly with this FWD car and is now battling towards the front with her faster competitors.
This is a huge achievement, especially as Rebecca is also racing the RWD KTM X-Bow GT4 alongside her weekends in the MINI. Switching back and forth between RWD and FWD takes a lot of skill and has added to Rebecca’s already impressive racecraft.