Upcoming female racing driver Alice Hughes has enjoyed a successful test in the MINI Challenge JCW car at Snetterton. The 750 Motor Club racer overcome the elements at the Norfolk track to set a number of competitive lap times in difficult conditions last week. Despite the power difference between her current Ford Fiesta and the race-spec MINI Cooper, Alice made a smooth transition and hopes to return to test the MINI again the near future.
The MINI Challenge is one of the fastest growing series in the UK with four different classes of MINI’s competing over a race weekend, ranging from the entry level Cooper class up to the JCW’s which are the most powerful cars which would provide an ideal stepping stone to the British Touring Car Championship. Excited for her test session in the MINI Cooper JCW, Alice had to overcome the elements before taking to the track, commenting ‘The weather wasn’t very kind to us and unfortunately the thunderstorms that broke out resulted in our session being red flagged but that didn’t stop me from having fun, so I sat in the garages and waited in anticipation for the track to re-open’.
With Eurotech Racing competing in the JCW of the MINI Challenge, alongside their British Touring Car Championship commitments, the series comes with great pedigree and is an attractive proposition for any driver looking to forge a career in tin top racing. Alice spoke of her delight in driving the JCW machine by saying ‘The 255 Bhp 2lt MINI TwinPower engine was a dream to drive, even in the wet. The amount of grip I managed to find, using the Dunlop wet tyres, on the circuit really surprised me. The Quaife sequential gearbox was mega as the transition from gear to gear was so clean cut and smooth. Using a load cell on the gear stick also really impressed me as I was able to keep my foot flat out on the accelerator when shifting up through the gears which allowed me to feel the MINI’s power. The car just went anywhere and everywhere you wanted it to. Even though I didn’t get a chance to drive the car on slicks, I produced some quick lap times considering the track conditions and even got invited back down for another session’.
Despite only testing the car for one session, Alice was able to get a good feel for the MINI and explained the similarities and differences she found between that and her current Ford Fiesta ST which she races in the 750 Motor Club. ‘I wanted to try the MINI Challenge JCW class as the power to weight ratio wasn’t too dissimilar from my own and after driving Excelr8’s MINI Challenge car, I can truly appreciate how awesome our Ford Fiesta ST’s (that Tom Bell from TBR has pioneered and built) really are! The main difference I found between the two cars was how fast they can stop. The MINI runs 17” wheels whereas we only run 15”, which meant you can fit bigger discs on the MINI. Another difference between the two was the rev range. My Fiesta can rev out to 9000rpm whereas the MINI could only rev out to 6000rpm’.
Alice has a productive off-season ahead of her where she hopes to secure the funding to continue racing in 2017. After her successful test in the JCW machine, Alice is hungry for more opportunities and commented ‘I know that MINI Challenge are working to be one of the best one make racing championships in the UK, but thanks to Tom Bell and the 750 Motor Club, I’m able to run a Ford Fiesta ST that really isn’t too far away from these high-profile cars’. Hughes aspires to further her motorsport career and competing in the MINI Challenge is certainly a goal for the future, however another positive season competing with the 750 Motor Club would help her to move up the motorsport ladder.
Alice would like to thank MINI challenge, Excelr8 Motorsport and Snetterton Circuit for a great session.
You can keep up to date with Alice’s progress using the social media links below:
Website – www.alicehughesracing.co.uk
Facebook – www.facebook.com/AliceHughesRacing
Twitter – www.twitter.com/AHughesRacing