Ross Wylie took sensational back-to-back victories in the final round of the Celtic Speed Mini Cooper Cup at Knockhill (6 October).
The 21-year old from Thornhill, Dumfriesshire delivered another solid performance in timed qualifying despite being thrown by the track conditions: “It was unusually quick,” the Minimax Motorsport driver commented, adding “The conditions meant the cars were lapping half a second faster than normal. Unfortunately, on my ‘hot’ lap I was passed going into the Hairpin and that rather ruined my rhythm and I missed pole position by a tenth of a second.”
Still, it was good enough to set the 4th-fastest time overall and from his second row starting position on the grid, Wylie held his place as the field streamed into the first corner. However, the three drivers ahead of him were all team-mates and after taking 3rd place with relative ease, Wylie’s bid for 2nd place found him being backed into the clutches of the chasing pack. A neat move, known as a switchback – in which a driver pressures the car ahead to move onto the defensive inside line before moving to the outside of the track and then diving down the inside of the other competitor – saw Ross snatch the place at Clark’s Corner. His hunting down of the race leader was boosted by a Safety Car period, but it also bunched the field up as a stranded car was recovered from a vulnerable position.
When the race resumed, Wylie tracked his rival for a lap and then made his move: “I caught him at the apex of the last corner and went for it, making sure that I closed the door so he couldn’t come back at me and from there held the lead to the chequered flag.”
It was his maiden car racing victory and Ross described the feeling as he crossed the finishing line as “unbelievable.” It was also a monkey off his back: “It was nice to come away with a victory after working hard to achieve one, but never quite pulling it off. It also took a massive weight off my shoulders, as I’d finally proved I could win in cars,” said the former British Open kart champion.
Ross had no chance to savour his first win or the podium champagne, as he had two further races to contest. Having triumphed in the first, Wylie secured pole position for the following encounter. A mistake as the lights went out cost him several places. As he regrouped, more drama was to befall. “At Knockhill you need to pay attention to your engine revs and I missed the initial ‘go’ by a split second. It was enough for the guys around me to get ahead as we ran to the first corner. I was annoyed at myself, but focused on the job in hand and was fighting my way back up the order when the newly crowned champion, Tim Sleigh tipped into me at the Chicane. I went off into the gravel and dropped down several places but was effectively saved when the race was red-flagged (stopped) due to an accident elsewhere on the circuit. I was lucky because the officials chose to re-start the race using the original grid positions, putting me back on pole.”
At the second asking, Wylie made no mistakes and romped to a classic, lights-to-flag victory. “That was fantastic,” he beamed. “As I approached the chequered flag I could see my family and team hanging over the pit wall, cheering me home. That was very special.”
Sadly, a fairy tale third straight win was not to be. A tyre gamble didn’t pay off and after battling throughout the race with handling issues, Ross settled for a respectable 5th place and this did not detract from the team’s joy at his earlier success. “Everyone was ecstatic, they were really pleased and of course, my two wins delighted my sponsors. Hopefully I can now carry this winning momentum through to next season. I’m now looking at a number of options, which I hope will offer me a further opportunity to jump up the ladder. I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to Craig Noble and the whole of the Minimax Motorsport team, my main sponsor Peter Gronberg at the Thornhill Inn, all my friends and a special big ‘thank you’ to my parents for all the sacrifices they’ve made to enable me to go motor racing and of course, my girlfriend Suzanne who has been so supportive throughout.”
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