Opportunity Knox as Chris takes lead in the British Mini Challenge
For immediate release: May 13, 2014
Pictures by Marc Pantony Photography
Comeback king Chris Knox defied two engine changes at Brands Hatch to storm to three victories in the British Mini Festival and take the lead in the British Mini Challenge.
Chris, from Elderslie, Renfrewshire, was back behind the wheel of the Rivervale Leasing Mini at the Kent track thanks to SL Group Management.
He also had massive help from shopplay.co.uk and Mintech Spares UK.
But Chris — who was British Mini Challenge champion in 2011 — looked to be in line for a tough weekend when a gear linkage problem damaged his engine in qualifying.
Despite the problem occurring in the first two laps, he battled on in the tricky conditions with a poor-sounding engine and managed to get the Rivervale Leasing car on the front row of the grid. His Excelr8 Motorsport team did a great job to get him out for the race but a lack of power meant he was struggling on the straights at the iconic Brands Hatch circuit.
He had to settle for fourth place and another race against time to get a third engine installed. This proved to be the turning point as Chris produced some stunning laps to take victory in the next three races.
Renfrewshire Rocket Chris has already made a name for himself in selected rounds of the Continental Tires Sports Car Series in America in 2012 after a successful career in karting, then turned on the style last year in a Blackwood Plant Hire Vauxhall Insignia at a touring car test at Brands Hatch.
But he showed a devastating mix of attacking and defensive driving to keep his Rivervale Leasing Mini ahead of the pack.
Now he is hoping to rubber-stamp a deal to build on that championship lead in the next round.
CHRIS SAYS: “We had to qualify in the wet and the gear linkage came off. I obviously didn’t know so I went for fifth gear and it would only let me go into third gear. That over-revved the engine on my second lap, but it was still enough to put me on the front row.
“We changed the engine but the car was 10mph down on the straights.I was able to stay with the rest on the curvy bits, but as soon as we hit the straights I was in trouble. I made a move past Lawrence Davey on the last corner of the last lap and grabbed third but lack of power allowed Lawrence to retake the place before the line. I was happy enough with fourth place given the lack of power.
“We changed the engine again and everything changed. It was looking like a dismal weekend but ended in elation as we got three wins.
“I am now leading the championship and was named Sonoco driver of the weekend.
“But it was a real mixture of races for me. In the second one, I got a great start from fourth and was leading by Druids. I was able to build on the lead and get a comfortable gap.
“The third race was tougher because Lawrence had new tyres on while we were on used tyres. That was one of the hardest races of my life because I had to defend from lap five to the last. It was 20 minutes of pure defence and I just had to make sure I put my car in the right place so he could not get past.
“Then I pulled seven out of the bag for the reverse grid which wasn’t the best, but I got a brilliant start and got past four cars within half a lap. Then I went up another place when a car spun in front of me, but that meant a bigger gap to the leader.
“It took me a couple of laps to reel them in and get past, then I just built the gap and brought the car home.
“It turned into an amazing weekend. Massive thanks to Excelr8 – they did an amazing job. Three fast engine changes in a race weekend is testament to that.
“We are still on a race-to-race basis but hopefully these results will attract more sponsorship.”