Competition winner Will Dendy makes stunning Mini debut

Diplomat and aspiring racing driver Will Dendy has made a stunning race debut in the MINI Challenge at Brands Hatch, having won the drive via a Facebook competition organised by Pirelli UK.

Thousands of people entered the competition by answering the question ‘Are you Race Worthy?’ on Pirelli’s Facebook site in July, posting up to five photographs with captions to illustrate why they would be worthy of the prize drive. The top 10 went through to a shoot-out at the Thruxton circuit, featuring a series of driving challenges.

After much deliberation, Pirelli’s panel of judges – which included a journalist from Motor Sport magazine as well as television presenter Tiff Needell – came to their conclusion, awarding 26-year-old Dendy the prize drive. His day job couldn’t present a bigger contrast to Britain’s race tracks: Dendy is a diplomat working for the British government, whose role takes him all over the world.

Part of his competition prize was coaching to enable him to take his race licence, and with that hurdle surmounted, Dendy was straight into the cut and thrust of racing in the MINI Challenge, which is exclusively supplied by Pirelli.

During his race debut at Brands Hatch last weekend, Dendy showed huge promise against drivers with much more experience. Even though he had his times in qualifying disallowed, he fought his way up through the entire field over the course of the weekend and was actually leading the final race before it was red-flagged. With three races making up the MINI Challenge weekend, Dendy’s other results included a fifth-place finish and a sixth-place finish, rounding off a stunning debut.

Dendy said: “I had an absolutely brilliant weekend that definitely even exceeded my own expectations. It’s just one of the best experiences I’ve ever had! I’m really grateful to Pirelli, which handed me this amazing opportunity – and all as the result of a Facebook competition. I love racing but I really didn’t know what to expect going into the weekend. I soon settled into a rhythm though and I had fantastic support from the Lohen team, which helped me so much. This is the biggest opportunity I’ve ever had to further my racing career, and I really hope to use it as a springboard for more racing in future, perhaps even in endurance racing. My ultimate dream is Le Mans, and I’ll always be thankful to to Pirelli for helping me take the first step on the ladder.”

Pirelli UK Managing Director Dominic Sandivasci concluded: “Congratulations to Will for a great performance on his first time out with the MINI Challenge: one of the most popular of the 250 or so race and rally championships that we support worldwide as a company. The form that Will showed definitely justified the decision of the judges to award him the prize. To lead on his debut is a remarkable achievement. Hopefully he will go on to achieve yet more in the world of racing in future, and we’re delighted to have set him on the right path.”