Hughes had started the weekend with a sixth place in practice but she knew she’d be able to move up in qualifying when the times actually matter. This proved to be very much the case and she quickly set the second fastest time and wasn’t then moved from this spot for the rest of the session. This put her in a great position to try and secure the title.
She got a good start for the first race although as usual with Mighty Mini’s the closeness of the pack saw her drop to third on lap one. She then dropped a further position three laps later but kept her head and three laps later she made a move to climb back up to third. This was followed by another move into second just behind title rival Damien Harrington. The two swapped position several times before contact from a car in the separate Super Mighty Mini class, slowed her and allowed Harrington back into the lead.
Although not ideal, this wasn’t a major issue as with the points for second place, she still retained a healthy points lead.
Race two was a reverse grid race and Hughes started seventh. Within five laps, Hughes was up to second. It looked like she could secure the title in this race. But then disaster struck when Hughes was forced to retire from the race just as she was about to go for an attempt on the lead. If Harrington could now have a good result, her championship would potentially be under threat. But, fortunately for Hughes, Harrington also retired which immediately meant Hughes was crowned the champion with one race still to go.
With the title secured, it was decided not to compete in race three and so that was Hughes 2017 season over, in the best possible way in terms of the championship.
It’s been a very successful season for Hughes, not just in the Mighty Minis where several victories and podiums have given her the title, but also in Autograss where she won a national ladies title during the summer. Two titles in a season is a rare accomplishment
“What a season! After it’s ups and downs, the season has now come to a close. I’m over the moon to be crowned The Mighty Mini champion in my first full season of tarmac racing. It’s been an incredible year with some extremely boastful competition but this has just developed me as a driver even more.” Said Hughes after the weekend
“8 podiums and 4 fastest laps has lead to taking the championship title and I couldn’t be any more proud of what both the team and myself have achieved this weekend. I’ve met some fantastic people on my journey through my motorsport career so far and I’m very excited to see where this leads.”
She hinted at moving up to something at a higher level in 2018 too;
“Both myself and my manager, Ivor Bourne [Integra Sports Partners] are going to be working extremely hard to push for funding next year to take my career to the next level.”
Hughes has certainly proved herself in 2017 and it will be interesting to see where she progresses to next. We’ll bring you any news as soon as we get it and remember to keep an eye on both our and Alice’s Facebook page for news as soon as it happens.
https://www.facebook.com/alicehughesracing/ By Marc Waller