MINI Challenge Cooper Trophy Pre Thruxton Report

Before the next round at Thruxton gets underway, I just wanted to quickly update you on our progress and what we're expecting over the weekend.

Once the excitement and, of course, frustration had calmed down after the first round at Oulton Park, we were able to really reflect upon what we learnt from the weekend; the top point, three into Cascades, just doesn't go, I tried… who figured. But, nevertheless, putting the humour aside for a moment, we've learnt a tremendous amount about three crucial things we didn't fully know before Oulton Park; how the car behaves when it is really being pushed on both wet and slick tyres in various changing and challenging conditions, how other drivers behave at different points of the race and what we think we need to do to be at the front.

I will focus on the latter point; dad, the team, and I concluded that if we want to be anywhere, we need to understand the car's performance fully. We know the car is strong, being an ex Matt Neal Team Dynamics car but what we didn't know is how strong. Since Oulton Park, the car has been dynamometer tested to within an inch of its life. With the data we've collected, we now know exactly how much power it's got, where it is and where I need to change gear to keep the power at its prime. We also learned from the test that the car has the maximum amount of power the engine can produce while still running within regulation. With Thruxton being the fastest circuit in the country, maximum power is critical and highly confidence-boosting.

That's not all we've done, as I have never actually driven Thruxton dad made the point that I need to get at least some kind of time around the circuit. So he made a couple of phone calls to some old pals. He firstly gave Tiff Needell a call, Tiff's local circuit is Thruxton, and he part runs a driver experience programme from the circuit where he tells punters not to wear white underpants and drives them around completely sideways in his M4. Tiff took me around the track, giving me some invaluable tips, tricks and advice on where I want to be and what I should be doing; he was a great help!

The next call dad made was to a Mr Steve Soper; I've known Steve my entire life, and he is a great family friend. During the lockdown, Steve invested in a pretty high-tech racing simulator and offered me the opportunity to use it, so I did. Last week I did about 100 laps around Thruxton in a varied range of cars to get a feel for the circuit while Steve and dad sat by me, giving me a whole load of advice about the circuit, it again was invaluable.

I have also had a long conversation with another driver and friend who has won at Thruxton numerous times and went through the circuit's dos and don'ts.

Overall, there is no reason why I should be off the pace; I feel incredibly confident with my car, my team and I feel Thruxton suits my driving style down to a' T', pun intended.

So, I expect to have a little more luck this weekend; I am confident, physically prepared and mentally prepared for the challenge Thruxton will bring. With a total of 3 races this weekend and the solid support from Robb Gravett, Tiff Needall and Steve Soper, who knows... I may find myself on the podium.

Bradley Gravett son of BTCC British Touring Car Champion Robb Gravett in the Cooper Trophy at Oulton Park in 2020 Sat in Car with Graves Motorsport Mini Challenge JCW Cooper Racing Driver LIQUI MOLY LM Performance Omologato Watches Thinking it Better