Direnza debuts in the 2019 MINI Challenge JCW championship with All Stars driver Ryan Dignan, and the team gets off to a flying start at the fast and technical Snetterton circuit
Practice makes perfect
With a passion for racing and developing performance parts, Direnza is going all out in motorsport this year, sponsoring drivers in several categories. One of those pilots is Ryan Dignan, a seasoned MINI Challenge JCW class racer who will have the team’s full support throughout his campaign. You can read more about this partnership here.
The team’s first outing in 2019 came recently, at Snetterton on May 18-19th. Following a successful test at the Norfolk venue earlier in the week, everyone was hopeful for a strong showing and Ryan didn’t disappoint.
Speaking about the weekend, Dignan said, “Practice went well in terms of setting up the car. I hadn’t driven the MINI JCW for eight months prior to Monday’s test session, so it was encouraging to see some good lap times on the board. The pace of the competition in MINI Challenge has increased since the announcement that the series will be supporting the British Touring Car Championship from 2020. There are now some very talented drivers on the grid.”
Qualifying on Saturday began with equal promise, and Dignan soon found himself towards the top of the timing screen. However, an issue with the MINI’s differential meant he couldn’t capitalise on his car’s strong set up, and he wound up 19th on a grid of 29 JCWs for Race 1. The Direnza team then went into overdrive to fix the differential problem, spending the next six hours dismantling and reassembling the unit – with great success!
Now the fun begins
Sunday arrived and Ryan got off to a great start in Race 1. “With almost 30 MINIs going door-to-door, turns one and two are very intense, so for us to emerge from them unscathed was a miracle. The race went well from our point of view, and I managed to post some decent lap times. I was pleased to finish 17th and get a good feel for the car, which confirmed we’d gone the right way on set up. I was eager to make more headway in Race 2…”
With black clouds gathering overhead, anxiety was high for the final race of the weekend. “I managed to gain two or three places within the first few laps,” said Dignan. “Staying with the top pack of cars was my priority and I managed this for the next two laps. I managed to find good pace as the weather deteriorated, although it got a little hairy on slick tyres as the rain’s intensity increased.
“From then on, it was a case of battling but being sensible, and making sure I didn’t slide off the circuit, as some other drivers were doing. I was extremely happy to cross the finish line in 10th position, given the difficulties we had early on in the weekend. The result sets the team up nicely for Round 3 at Silverstone on June 8-9th.”
Images: MINI Challenge