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This weekend marked the start of the MINI Challenge 2016 season and our first race weekend for the newly formed #biz7 race team! Our first winner from the biz7 was 18-year-old Piers Prior, who won the Lightweight class at the Champions Challenge Final.
Mechanics, drivers and spectators descended on a very cold but clear Donington Park for open testing on Friday. This gave Piers the opportunity to get a feel for the MINI Cooper race car and go out with Chris Smith from BIZ Karts for some one-on-one driver tuition. On Saturday afternoon, Piers went out for a 20-minute qualifying session. He was very quickly recording impressive lap times and managed to qualify in P6 overall, just 0.5 seconds off pole. Race 1 took place later on Saturday afternoon and what a race it was! There was plenty of position swapping, both up and down, for Piers in his first ever car race! Amazingly, he crossed the finishing line with 3rd place. Here’s how the race played out from the driving seat:
“I went into the race feeling prepared thanks to the Friday test. I knew we had some pace as we qualified 6th, just 0.3 from second. My start was horrendous as I hadn’t had the chance to practice, and I went from 6th to about 9th by the first corner. I clawed back a few of the lost places on the exit of turn 1 and found myself in a fight with Sam Weller for 3rd position for the majority of the race. After passing him and then making a mistake I caught him again on the last lap and managed to pass him out the last corner on the drag to the finishing line, grabbing a podium. It was a great feeling to achieve a good result in my first race and it was great to see everyone so happy at the podium presentation.”
Piers took his confidence from Saturday’s performance with him in to Race 2, which took place on Sunday afternoon.
“Starting 3rd I had a better start but still lost ground at turn 1. It was raining at the start, which meant the tyres were cold and everyone was slipping all over the place. I was just concentrating on keeping on the circuit. The racing was intense and I ended up fighting with my teammate Adam Davey. He managed to pull away just slightly as I was down on straight line speed. Again I found myself behind Weller on the last lap and I nearly managed to repeat the move from race 1 to beat him to the line but he just covered the line meaning I bumped into him; I finished 5th”
For Race 3, Piers started 2nd on the grid, courtesy of reverse grid positioning for the top 6 from Race 2. Spectators at the circuit witnessed some drama going into the first corner! Nevertheless, we managed to get some exciting and clean racing from Piers and his competitors for the remainder of the race. A final position of 5th cemented Piers as a really thrilling driver to watch! We caught up with Piers to hear his thoughts on the final race of the weekend:
“I concentrated on getting a better start as it had been a weakness of mine through the races. From the front row I nailed my start and lead the race briefly before my speed deficit meant I was about 3rd at the first corner. On the exit I took a large hit to the left rear of my Mini Cooper, which spun me 180 degrees. Two cars were also stranded after taking avoiding action, one overturned. I hoped for a red flag to reposition me on the front row, but they dealt with the carnage under safety car meaning I would have to fight my way back up from last place. After an awesome race overtaking cars lap after lap I was able to finish in 5th place. It was a great race however I was left disappointed as I felt I could have been fighting for another podium. None the less I had great fun fighting my way through.”
Piers’ final results for the Donington race weekend were a 3rd, 5th and another 5th. Enormous congratulations from everyone at BIZ Karts to Piers for getting the hang of the MINI Cooper and competitive car racing so quickly! We caught up with Piers today to see how we was feeling following such a fantastic weekend:
I would just like to personally thank you all for an incredibly enjoyable and what turned out to be quite successful weekend in the Mini. I enjoyed every second of the whole weekend and learnt so much. I have gained very valuable experience, which will no doubt help me in my racing career in the future. It was also a very enjoyable weekend for my parents and friends who came down to support me. The whole team was great fun to be around and very helpful. I think what you have done at BIZ Karts with the Champions Challenge is a great opportunity for so many people.
The weekend proved to be a great success for our biz7 race team and we cannot wait to welcome our second winner, Iain Weber, to Round 2 of the MINI Challenge at Silverstone on the 27-29 May! Iain came to the Champions Challenge Final with Thruxton Kart Circuit. He came 2nd in the Heavyweights and showed great racing talent out on the kart circuit so we’re looking forward to seeing how he gets on in the Champions Challenge Mini Cooper! Make sure you follow Iain and the rest of the biz7 race team’s progress on Facebook and Twitter.
If you want a chance to be apart of the biz7 race team and driving our Champions Challenge MINI Cooper next year, make sure you sign up! We will be launching the 2016/17 Season to circuits nationwide running BIZ Karts shortly so stay tuned!
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