Scottish Mini Cooper CupBack to November 2018
Championship update - The title race had seen John Duncan with a 33 point lead in July, which was reduced to just 5 points lead in August. But after September’s 3 races he dropped to second overall, as David Sleigh took two wins, and a 13 point lead into the October meeting.
September – Reverse direction track in use. Round 15 David Sleigh led all the way with Robbie Dalgleish tied to his bumper, and top newcomer Michael Weddell close in 3rd. Despite a safety car period they didn’t change places until the final lap, when Dalgleish ran wide at Clark corner and Weddell slipped past to take 2nd and cement his Newcomers Cup title. John Duncan took 4th having dropped to 6th mid race. He fought back past Ross Wilkinson who finished 5th and Hannah Chapman who then retired. Round 16 David Sleigh again led all the way. He had Robbie Dalgleish on his tail for a few hundred metres, then Michael Weddell ran round him on a wide line at the hairpin and sat behind Sleigh for 6 laps, before Dalgleish regained 2nd at the downhill hairpin. By now Sleigh was nearly 2 seconds clear of the field. Robbie Dalgleish closed a little, but he had Michael Weddell for company in 3rd. John Duncan headed a 6 car train in 4th early on. After a safety car period called on lap 2 he lasted two more laps in 4th before dropping down to 7th by lap 6, maybe he had a problem. John hung on but dropped to 8th and recovered to 7th at the flag, which was 6th in the points, as top guest ex BMW Champion Gary Clark was 6th in an impressive Mini debut meeting. Dominic Wheatley and Ian Munro took 4th and 5th. Round 17 Robbie Dalgleish was on top form and won from 6th on the reversed grid. He had a great start going into 2nd almost immediately, then taking the lead at Clark on lap 1 from John Duncan, who had been on pole as the top 7 reversed. Dalgleish then held off a determined race long challenge from Ian Munro who grabbed 2nd on lap 1. John Duncan held third, with Michael Weddell all over him as 4 cars ran nose to tail at the front. In a last lap move Duncan grabbed 2nd from Munro. Sleigh got home 5th right on Weddell’s bootlid. Hannah Chapman was close in 6th having moved up from 11th place on the grid.
Title chase update after September races - By the time we went to the final meeting there were 3 drivers in with a chance of winning this prestigious Championship. David Sleigh, who was Mini Cooper champion in 2012, and had returned after 3 years away from racing, had a 13 point lead. John Duncan who led the title chase in July and August , but was 2ndby the time we went to the last meeting. Like Sleigh he also has 3 race wins. In 3rd place Robbie Dalgleish had won 6 races, but posted a no score or didn’t race in 5 rounds. He’d shot up the points table in the second half of the season, but was 52 points behind David Sleigh as we entered October.
October - A day of mixed fortunes for the top 3, and a real tussle for the title. It was also a day when the track was usually damp and rain showers persisted. Round 18 was won by Mark Geraghty the reigning champion, who entered his first Mini race of the year as a guest, with Dominic Wheatley and Michael Weddell on the podium. Geraghty took the lead on lap 1 from Robbie Dalgleish, as David Sleigh slid out of 2nd at Macintyres, and he then ran 4th but dropped back mid race. Dalgleish was 4th after running 2nd for much of the race. He dropped places late on. John Duncan was 5th a fine effort as he started 15th, with Sleigh less than a second back in 6th. Points margin now 11 points in favour of Sleigh. Round 19 – Robbie Dalgleish led from lap 3 passing early leader Wheatley. He was well clear of the pack on a wet track. Hannah Chapman got up from 8th to finish a good 2nd taking the place on lap 5 at the hairpin, and then easing clear of Dominic Wheatley who was 3rd. Post race Hannah said ‘ I just wanted to go out on a high and prove I can get on the podium’. John Duncan took 4th having been 2nd on lap 1. But title rival Sleigh was 7th and had a big tank slapper mid race at Clark dropping a place, which he recovered passing Geraghty on lap 7 at Clark. John Duncan had now narrowed the points gap to Sleigh it was now 6 points. Round 20 This was an exciting finale as luck and points swung one way and then another. The reverse grid saw Weddell on pole from Duncan 2nd but with Sleigh 7th on the grid. It was windy and wet. John Duncan led until lap 4 when Robbie Dalglesh passed him at Macintyres. Dalgleish went on to win for the 8th time this season, but would be 3rd overall in the championship. Hannah Chapman finished the season well by taking 2nd again. She nipped past John Duncan on lap 5. But Duncan stayed 3rd and got those valuable points and a podium. David Sleigh was having a real Mini adventure in his race. He got a good start and was 4th on lap 1, then lost the place to Dalgleish on lap 2. By lap 4 he was 5th then he had a half spin at Macintyres and fell to 8th. He needed to be 5th to win the title if Duncan was 3rd. Sleigh was 7th on lap 6 passing John Hislop. But he was a couple of seconds behind the 6th placed car. Up front Dalgleish was nearly 3 seconds clear of Chapman who was 6 seconds ahead of Duncan. That’s how they finished. But Duncan led a group of 4 cars. Sleigh set after them on lap 6. He took 2 seconds out of this group to be on their tail on the final lap. At the last corner (hairpin) Sleigh dived past Ian Munro to take 6th.
All this action meant the Championship was tied on points between Duncan and Sleigh, so as per the rules it was decided on a count back of positions. Both had taken 3 wins so it went back further. John Duncan emerged the winner after a season battle, and the closest Mini Cooper Cup yet. Runner up David Sleigh, 3rd Robbie Dalgleish.
This Cup is for novice drivers in their first or second year of car racing. Last season it was won by Mark Geraghty. This season its congratulations to Michael Weddell who has won the Newcomers Cup class.
By September’s meeting close he had taken 13 class wins from 17 rounds, and had won the title in September. His season long rival Craig Blake didn’t race in September, though Michael was well ahead. Ross Wilkinson has moved into 2nd and has one class win, while Craig Blake had 3 class wins.
In October Weddell took 3 more class wins taking his total from mid season to 12 wins in a row and 16 in total from 20 rounds. It was a dominant performance. Runner-up in the Cup was Ross Wilkinson.
Hannah Chapman was the reigning Cup holder. This year Hannah Chapman had won 13 of the 17 rounds after September’s races, but had posted no score in the other 4 rounds. Ashleigh Morris who finished 9th in BMW Compacts last year, is in her 1st season of Minis. She has 3 class wins, but has scored in every round, and had a good points lead in this unique Cup. Fiona Kindness has also won a round and not scored in 2 of the 17 rounds.
In October Hannah won the Cup class 3 times giving her 16 class wins for the year, but Ashleigh took two 2nds and a 3rd which was enough to give her the Ladies title by just 3 points.