The MINI JCW Team has had a great year in the Continental Tire Championship winning and at times dominating races. But at Road America rain and a red flag got in the way of what could have been another great race.
The race began with the the MINIs bolting to first, third and fourth with only the BMW 328i is between. Then the rain came and things got intense. The leading MINI had trouble in turn five and lost a handful of positions. Derek Jones in 73 continued pressuring the now leading BMW while the 37 car battled the Miatas and a Porsche Cayman.
In talking with Derek Jones before the race, the team had decided to turn off all driver’s aids to Road America allowing they driver’s total control. Then I told Derek that rain was coming. He just smiled and said, well it should be interesting then.
In the end it wasn’t the driver’s inability to control the cars, it was the natural order of pitstops, rain and then an unusually long red flag the doomed the MINI JCW Team. IMSA threw the red after the MINIs had just pitted and when they were naturally back in the pack. The red was for lighting in the area (which we saw none of at the track) and was suppose to be very temporary. 30 minutes went by and as the rain died down and skies became brighter we all assumed IMSA was setting us up for a dramatic dash to the finish.
Alas that didn’t happen. The cars remained in the pits for the rest of the allotted race time frozen in the positions they happen to be in when the flag dropped. It was a huge disappointment for the MINI JCW Team and frankly for all the fans came out.
Yet it was, as always, an absolutely joy to see MINIs racing in a top spec series and being right at the front. This is a team from top to bottom that does the brand and all of its supporters proud. And MINI presence extends beyond just the team’s trailer. There’s a full MINI USA tent with a collection of JCWs for anyone to check out. If you have the chance to the team at the remaining three races, do it.
– AUG 25 TO AUG 27 – MICHELIN GT CHALLENGE AT VIR / Alton, VA
– SEP 22 TO SEP 24 – CONTINENTAL TIRE MONTEREY GRAND PRIX / Salinas, CA
– OCT 04 TO OCT 07 – MOTUL PETIT LE MANS / Braselton, GA