BENNETT AND XITE RACING TARGET SEMI-FINALS AT SPA-FRANCORSHAMPS
The 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship hasn't been kind to Bristol-based driver Oliver Bennett so far this year but with the third round of the season approaching it feels like there is a change of luck coming. ECU issues and a roll in Abu Dhabi saw the XITE Racing Mini Cooper SX1 come back from the first round battered and bruised before a quick rebuild by the team ahead of Barcelona. The second round saw Olympic Gold medalist Sir Chris Hoy join the team, driving the XITE Racing Ford Fiesta as he made his rallycross debut, scoring championship points in his first ever event. Talking of Hoy's experience, Bennett said. "He loved it, and didn't stop smiling from the start. It was great to see his professional sportsmanship of just being able to get in the zone at the top level and give it a go! "Really cool to see him in the car! Would be great to see him back in it! Lets see what happens!" he added. Unfortunately the luck was not there for Bennett that weekend, "There was a large pot hole on the entrance to the gravel after the start-finish line that was high speed and directly under a braking point!" he explained.
"We had a new design arm on for Barcelona, and every time it hit that hole it would bend. It was only a matter of corners before it snapped in Q2 and Q4" While the mechanical problems were frustrating for Bennett and the team there is an renewed air of confidence in the team as they approach the third round of the championship at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit. "We knew what the issue was in Barcelona, we just had no way of fixing it there, but it's been sorted for Spa. It just goes to show how even minor changes can cause big issues at race speeds!"
Aside from the mechanical issues this year the XITE Racing Mini Cooper SX1 has shown impressive pace, and with Bennett improving every time he races the target of reaching the semi-finals is within his reach this weekend.
Oliver Bennett quotes ahead of Spa-Francorchamps Another new circuit on the calendar, is there anything you can do to prepare ahead of seeing the circuit? "The circuit looks great, but I haven't been able to do much preparation for this round. There has only been some behind the scenes photos released and the track map, but I'm pretty used to learning the tracks fast, so lets see how it goes!" Mechanical issues aside, the Mini has good pace, is this the weekend that you make it in to the semi-finals? "It's been a tough start to the year but the team have been fantastic and are refreshed and ready to go for the weekend. I think this could be the weekend we see the hard work pay off. There is literally nothing stopping us now, we just need some luck on our side!" Last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps saw snow, the weather conditions look changeable this week heading in to the weekend, what would be your ideal conditions? "I saw that it was snowing there, hopefully that will stay away, but it wouldn't be the first time we've raced in those conditions! Ideally I think that rain could help us out, just to balance the performance on set-ups!"