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The Oulton Park weekend saw more dramatic twists than ever, with relative unknowns Henry Neal and George Sutton claiming top spots in the two races. From multi-car smashes to simple clutch errors, it’s safe to say that many of the championship’s big names didn’t fare as well as on previous outings. But that still didn’t stop Brett Smith from powering through to claim this year’s MINI Challenge crown, with two assured performances guaranteeing a convincing victory for the rising star.
George Sutton secured a hard-fought first place to make it two new winners from two races, along with first race victor Henry Neal. The young guns came to the fore in the final race of the weekend, with Irishman Reece Bar pushing Sutton all the way and taking second place. Max Bladon ended a recent run of bad luck to finish on the podium too. “It was starting to feel like the world was against me!” he beamed after the race. "It’s great to be back up here finally."
With the final race in Donington still to come, Brett Smith finished fourth in the second race at Oulton Park to secure the points he needed to be crowned this year’s MINI Challenge Champion. “It would have been nice to cap the championship with a win, but you can’t have everything,” he said. “It’s still been an amazing year.”
Rain soaked the track just five minutes from the end of race one, making race conditions very difficult in seconds. And for several drivers, the challenge was too great. The race was stopped when a handful of cars – among them Rob Smith, Mark Wakefield, Chris Fryer and Ray MacDowall – all went off at Knickerbrook. The resulting red flags took the rankings back a lap, handing Henry Neal the top spot.
After performing well at Brands Hatch, Charlie Butler-Henderson had a challenging weekend to say the least. Having misjudged the weather and kitted his MINI out for rain, his first race ended disastrously. But the MINI Ambassador showed his true mettle and rallied for the second race, recording the fastest lap time to protect his second-place overall ranking.
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