Ant Whorton-Eales secured this year’s MINI CHALLENGE JCW Championship title with another dominant drive in the first race of the weekend at Donington Park, taking his winning streak to seven.
If qualifying had an unusual look to it, the race played right into the hands of the title protagonists, with the forewarned wet weather giving way to dry, sunny conditions for the morning’s outing.
The change in conditions didn’t favour pole-sitter Ben Palmer, whose experience in the 265bhp JCW has been limited exclusively to wet running. Palmer didn’t get off the line well, and was soon swamped by fellow front row starter James Gornall and Whorton-Eales, who enjoyed his customary rocket start to run alongside Gornall down the Craner Curves.
That’s where things went wrong for Gornall, who got sideways at the left-hand kink and was spat off onto the grass, before skipping out of control down the hill and back across the front of the pack, only narrowly missing Jordan Collard’s front bumper.
Palmer also slid through the gravel at the Old Hairpin and lost ground, allowing both Nathan Harrison and Collard to slip up the order and chase Calum King, who was now in second.
With clean air ahead of him, Whorton-Eales pumped in a series of strong laps to pull a gap of over five seconds on the field, and from then on the hard work was done.
With the title and the race win sewn up, the fight for second erupted. King fought hard to hold off Collard, who had slipped past Harrison on lap two, but eventually gave way when Collard got underneath him into Coppice corner and completed the move into the Fogarty Esses. Harrison followed Collard through and began to pile the pressure on, but fell just short at the flag.
King held off a spirited fightback from Palmer to secure fourth place, with George Sutton a strong sixth on his return to the field. Lewis Brown was seventh after battling past Rory Cuff and Jack Davidson. Rob Smith completed the top 10 after recovering from a gravelly moment at Redgate on the first lap.
Nathan Harrison brought new champion Ant Whorton-Eales’ winning run to a finish by fighting to victory in the final race of the season at Donington Park, and in doing so cemented second place in the standings.
Harrison started fifth on the reversed grid, with Whorton-Eales back in seventh. The random grid draw handed Lewis Brown pole, but his hopes faded when a driveshaft let go as he pulled off the line when the lights went out.
That left George Sutton with the early lead as Ben Palmer, Harrison, Whorton-Eales, Calum King and Jordan Collard were bunched up behind him.
Sutton looked to be edging clear until he lost control exiting the Old Hairpin and spun into the barriers on the inside of the circuit at the start of lap two. It marked a sad end to what had been an impressive return to the grid for Sutton.
Harrison had worked his way into second and inherited top spot after Sutton’s impromptu exit. But things were far from secure, as Whorton-Eales was right on his bumper, as was Collard after both managed to depose Palmer to slot into second and third respectively.
AW-E began to pressure Harrison, but the leader held firm until Collard closed in enough to capture most of AW-E’s attention.
That handed Harrison a decisive gap that he used to secure his second victory of the season.
That fight between AW-E and Collard was a blinder too, despite AW-E picking up a five-second time penalty for straying beyond track limits at the Old Hairpin one too many times. Collard repeatedly attacked and the two ran side-by-side until Collard found a way through on the penultimate lap.
AW-E’s censure meant he eventually finished fourth, slipping behind Rob Smith, who put in a superb drive to climb through the order and cap his year with a podium.
Palmer capped a strong debut weekend with fifth place, a particular highlight being his superb wheel-to-wheel dice with Smith over a lap and a half. King was sixth ahead of Rory Cuff, Henry Neal, James Gornall and Jack Davidson.
Learn more about the Quaife QBM2M 6-Speed Sequential Gearbox as used in the Mini Challenge JCW Championship
- Large 85mm shaft centres
- 6 straight cut, open face dog engagement gears
- Innovative range of alloy adapter rings to suit a wide variety of popular power plants
- Incorporates a fitted carbon fibre bellhousing cover for ultimate weight saving
- Quaife sequential gearshift configurable for front or rear wheel drive transverse applications
- Output shafts can be fitted with 110mm Lobro or 3-ear Tripode joints for commonly found driveshafts
- Wide variety of clutch spline options available
- Choice of Quaife ATB Differential or Tran-X LSD included
- Differential accessible via detachable cover for rapid servicing
- Optional LED digital gear position indicator available
- £8,075.00 + VAT & Shipping. Contact Mini Challenge for Mini F56 or Quaife for other FWD applications
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
2.833 2.071 1.611 1.316 1.105 0.958
1.286 1.045 0.870
1.381 1.200 1.043
Final drive ratio: