Recently Essaar Motorsport interviewed Bryony King as part of our Fast Females features. The former single seater driver has switched to tin tops for the rest of the season in the MINI Challenge. We asked Bryony to write about her transition to a very different car and how her first weekend of racing with a roof went.
After only two months since I pulled out of the F1000 (formally Formula Jedi) championship, a lot of hard work has happened in order to enable me to be on the grid for the Mini Festival at Oulton Park. Prior to the meeting I had only two test days in the car and this would be my first ever time racing a front wheel drive car too!
Friday practice was a bit hectic with slower and faster cars out on track with my class, though once I got behind a Cooper Pro car my times came down and I learnt lines and techniques from my front running team mates.
Saturday came and we began with qualifying in the morning. The first half of the session was tough as I had a lot of the Cooper Am cars in front of me that I had to overtake in order to get a clear track ahead. Once I got some space my lap times came down and I set a time good enough for seventh overall, which was promoted to sixth after another competitor was penalised.
As I sat on the grid for my first race I was full of all sorts of emotions and this was only added to when the rain came down five minutes before we were due to start. This led to a frantic tyre change and off we went. Having little experience in front wheel drive in the dry was tough enough, but my first ever race in the wet was an even bigger challenge. I suffered on the start and dropped a few places but quickly overtook on the opening stages. More experienced drivers spun off the track, allowing me to move up the order as I got to grips with the car in wet conditions and kept it on the road. I eventually finished seventh which I was pleased with.
The second race was dry (thankfully!) though after a first lap crash we were under the safety car for over half of the race which meant it was red flagged and restarted. Only five minutes race time remained though. From the restart I was ninth but kept out of trouble, pushed hard and finished a strong sixth.
One of the biggest differences between the single seater racing I’ve been used to and the Mini is that the racing much closer and exciting. Rather than everyone being spread out and not much overtaking, the races were full of action and I’m looking forward to racing right at the front. I’m hoping my karting experience will help me with race craft as I’ve not had the experience of close, action-packed racing in single seaters.
Overall, the weekend was very positive and I’m excited to work from my results to move higher up the grid. Learning the concept of keeping your foot in if it slides has been difficult but I believe I will become fully confident in the car and push it to the limits for the next round at Donnington Park.
This feature was conducted by Essaar’s Chris Brown (@cbrownmsport). Photos by Marc Wellar.