Quick and responsive is the description of the MINI Cooper S handling, but also describes the MINI of Charleston Racing Team’s 2008 race team strategy (sponsored by Mini Mania). Six days into the New Year, the 2008 SCCA Southeast Region National Championship Series has already begun. Drivers from around the country assembled at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring Florida to compete for that first class victory of the season. In the Competitive Showroom Stock B class, Saturday’s qualifying was dominated by Mike Scornavacchi of Manheim , Pa. Mike was the pole sitter at the SCCA National Championship Runoffs in Topeka in October, but was hungry to get back on the podium after contact with a Honda Civic SI cost him a shot at a Championship. In 2007 Scornavacchi and the other Pontiac Solstice drivers dominated most races after being “awarded” an aggressive competition suspension package. To equalize the competition for 2008, the MINI Cooper S was allowed to upgrade to the factory Limited Slip transmission, and hopes to have the John Cooper Works Suspension package approved by February. The transmission change did allow MINI of Charleston driver Robbie Davis to improve significantly over last years Sebring times. However, the Scornavacchi Solstice and the Solstice of Charles Guest of Cascade, NC still took the top two qualifying spots. Davis qualified Third, leading the MINI Cooper S brigade; followed by the MINIs of Austin Theen of Venice, Fla.; Jill Urso of Orlando, Florida and Jonathan Start of Caledonia, Mi.
On the start of Sunday’s 45 mile race, Davis got an excellent start and passed Guest and Scornavacchi going into the first turn. Although Scornavacchi re-passed Davis for the lead, the two pulled out a safe margin from the rest of the field. Guest spun in turn eight and later dropped out with brake failure, but Theen and Urso had a classic MINI battle for the third position with Theen making the last past with two laps to go. Urso held on for fourth, with Start close behind. Sixth place went to Rudy Consolation of Akron, Oh., driving a Mazda Miata.
Robbie Davis’ fellow team driver, father and team manager, Brad Davis, didn’t compete this weekend, electing instead to be Robbie’s crew chief. “I was extremely proud of the race Robbie ran today”, said Brad, “He proved he is becoming a faster and wiser driver with each race. The limited slip addition brought us a little closer to being competitive with the Pontiacs , but the addition of the JCW suspension is still needed to level the playing field. Our contacts inside the SCCA report we should have a favorable response in the next few weeks.”
The team will be skipping the long road trip to Homestead Speedway outside Miami for next weekend’s double national, but will return to action in February at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, SC. Brad has had three straight national wins at CMP and is hoping to add to the total next month.