Rob Smith celebrated his most successful weekend of the season, picking up his first win of the year in the MINI Challenge JCW. The MINI UK VIP driver picked up the win during a dramatic reverse grid race in which many of those in front of him ran into trouble.
The weekend had started promisingly for Smith who qualified fourth, a position he kept in race one, despite a race-long battle with David Robinson. In the closing laps he had caught the leaders setting the second fastest lap as he was third in a four car queue for second across the line, just 0.3 seconds off a podium place.
His fortunes turned around the second race in which he started from fifth. This would become third before the start as the two cars ahead collided on the formation lap, with Jack Davidson spinning on the opening lap and polesitter Brad Hutchinson soon dropping down the order, Smith blasted ahead holding off a challenge from championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales for his first win of the year after a final lap sprint.
“This has been a long time coming!”, said an ecstatic Smith immediately after round eight, “We’ve always known the pace has been there from the start of the year, but we had damper problems at the first two events and then obviously some contact at Snetterton – it all hampered our progress.
“This weekend we’re back where we should be. If I’d strung it together in qualifying we would have been on the front row of the grid for race one and with the pace to fight for the win on Saturday as well. It’s a shame we didn’t have more laps in race two, but a win’s a win! It’s fantastic to be back on the top step of the podium, hopefully this can be the real start of our championship.”
He now lies fourth in the standings on 236 points, 78 behind the leader Whorton-Eales.
JCW continues at Oulton Park on 21 July as part of a full weekend in which all the MINI Challenge series will be in action.