The MINI JCW Team and MINI USA continued to show their dominance in the quest for a series championship in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series during this weekend’s Mid-Ohio 120 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The series last visited the track in 2013, creating a unique opportunity for a level playing field for the two hour endurance race. This was also the first time the MINI JCW Team had ever raced at the 16-turn, 2.4 mile race track 60 miles north of Columbus. The team successfully navigated a number of challenging blind turns and elevation changes to bring home the 1 – 2 finish over the very competitive Porsche and BMW teams.
Nate Norenburg continued his excellent qualifying form, putting the #37 MINI JCW on the front row for the third straight event. Norenberg showed that his qualifying run was no fluke. After initially falling to the back of the field, he had a strong run. Eventually racing his way back to the front, before handing the car over to Derek Jones. But it wasn’t meant to be for the #37 MINI JCW. Unfortunately, the punishing nature of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course lead to a torn CV boot, causing the CV joint to fail forcing the #37 MINI JCW out of the race.
Despite the issue with the #37 MINI JCW, the other two MINI race cars looked to be in perfect form. Colin Mullan made his debut with the team, driving the opening stint in the #52 MINI JCW. Mullan, who has previous experience at Mid-Ohio, had a strong debut. He kept the car clean and in close contact with the leaders throughout his stint. 2013 ST Driver Champion Mike LaMarra also did an outstanding job starting the #73 MINI JCW on the challenging central Ohio road course.
After pit stops, the Pombo brothers took over the driving duties, with Mat Pombo, entering the #73 MINI JCW while Mark Pombo got behind the wheel of the #52 MINI JCW. Mat and Mark were holding down first and second much as they did at Sebring. The only difference being that the positions were swapped. With neither the Porsche nor BMW drivers able to close in the race was left to the Pombos to decide. As the race wound down Mark, who put down the fast lap during the race on Saturday, closed in on Mat, reaching his rear bumper. But Mark was unable to pass and Mat crossed the finish line in first.
I am so proud of everyone on this team and their ability to stay focused on being the best team on the track every week. Our drivers did a phenomenal job out on the track. Our engineers Brad Moase, Zdravko Miric, Bill Stoddart, and lead engineer Rob Ridgely called a perfect race and our MINI technicians made it happen on pit road and in the paddock.
— Luis Perocarpi, team owner, LAP Motorsports
Throughout the entire season, technicians from MINI dealerships all over the country help support the team as part of the MINI Service Technicians Education Program (STEP). This weekend at Mid-Ohio the team was supported by four MINI technicians from Cincinnati MINI and one from Tom Bush MINI in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Indianapolis-based MINI JCW Team competes with a fleet of production-derived MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop race cars closely related to the John Cooper Works Hardtops that are currently on sale at MINI dealerships across the U.S. For information about the MINI JCW Team visit MINIJCWTeam.com.