Allen snatches lead on Pirelli-supported MINI Challenge

Four different winners emerged from this weekend’s second round of the Pirelli-supported MINI Challenge. In the John Cooper Works (JCW) class, Shane Stoney won the first race, with Lee Allen - the winner at the previous race in Silverstone – dominating the second. Jono Brown won the first race in the Club class, with current class leader Henry Gilbert winning the second.Twenty-two MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S race cars competed in two classes at Castle Combe on Monday: the John Cooper Works (JCW) class and the Club class. The JCW class was provided with slick and wet options: the 225/625-17 DH slick and 225/625-17 WS wet tyre. The Club class had only one type available: an intermediate tyre that is suitable across a range of different wet and dry conditions.  At only 17 years old, Shane Stoney is one of the youngest drivers on the grid but his experience as 2011 SAXmax champion has prepared him well for this year’s highly competitive MINI Challenge. As the only competitor on the grid to opt for Pirelli slicks, Stoney’s gamble paid off, as he won the opening race nearly 10 seconds ahead of second-placed Sam Osborne. Jono Brown emerged as race one Club class winner, with Henry Gilbert in second.Conditions for the second race were dry, and all crews opted for Pirelli slicks. Lee Allen started fourth on the grid but moved up to second in the early stages. The second half of the race proved to be extremely exciting, with less than a second separating the top three drivers going into the final lap. Allen finished first, with Lee Patterson second and Martin Depper claiming the final podium step. Henry Gilbert took the spoils in the Club class, and Jono Brown was second. Gilbert’s win in the second race marks his third win this year, and consolidates his position at the top of the Club class leaderboard.“I’ve had another really good weekend,” said JCW class championship leader Lee Allen. “The conditions were very mixed but I’d say that I have a really good handle on the Pirelli tyres now. It was the wrong choice to go on wets for the first race, but it had been really wet and the track dried up incredibly quickly. Shane definitely had the advantage, but his win was well deserved. I was happy with fourth and I’d kept my main competitors behind me so that was the main thing. I really enjoyed the second race. The conditions were dry and it was extremely close and would have been very exciting for both the spectators and for the TV.”Pirelli UK Tyre motorsport manager, Carl Naylor, said: “Castle Combe proved itself as an another exciting round to this year’s MINI Challenge. Shane Stoney made a brave but informed decision to use the Pirelli slicks on the opening race, and the gamble paid off with him leading the race by nearly 10 seconds. At only 17, he has proved himself as a very competent driver, and I am certain that Shane has a very bright future ahead of him. Congratulations once again to Lee Allen for winning his second race of the season and for establishing himself as the JCW class championship leader, and of course to Henry Gilbert who has now won three races in the Club class.”The third round of the MINI challenge will take place from 16-17 June at Brands Hatch Indy, where competitors will face three 20-minute races as part of the Brands Hatch MINI Festival. The action will once again be screened on Motors TV.

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