2016 Season Round-Up – David Sleigh Racing

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It’s pretty hard to believe that yet another season of SMRC racing has been and gone, bringing with it the usual onslaught of thrills, chills and oil spills. From the wintery testing in February to the intense heat of Donnington in the heart of summer, the Minis have been through one hell of a championship that is constantly growing richer in driver prowess and action.

Along with the entire Celtic Speed field growing massively, things at DSR followed the same trend. The 2015 season saw only 3 or 4 DSR cars making the grid, but by the final outing on the 2nd October, eight JRM-wrapped Minis squeezed into the two massive awnings that dominated the entrance to the Knockhill paddock. This sudden growth in competitive cars meant that the entire team also had to keep up. So anyone passing by the garage would see countless mechanics bustling around, working flat-out to keep every car under the supervision of David in top working order. Be it last minute gearbox changes, steering rack replacements or last minute panel beating, it’s safe to say that the mechanics have really done themselves proud this year.

The vast array of sponsors have also been fantastic all season, especially the JRM power couple of Jim and Marten who never miss an event and are amongst the most committed of team members. Without those two, the DSR Minis would never be able to look as good as they do in the equally wonderful pictures taken by Eddie Kelly and Alan Crawford.

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So how did the last weekend of racing go? Below are the placings:

Race 1 results:

1st Kyle Reid
Jock Borthwick 7th
Dominic Wheatley 11th
Des Wheatley 15th
Daniel Dreelan 16th
Neal Robertson 17th
Oliver Mortimer 18th
Jonny Dreelan 19th
Chris Blackhall 23rd

Race 2 results:

1st Morgan Murray
Dominic Wheatley 6th
Oli Mortimer 7th
Jock Borthwick 10th
Dan Dreelan 14th
Neal Robertson 15th
Jonny Dreelan 20th
Des Wheatley 21st

Race 3 results:

1st Oli Mortimer
Dominic Wheatley 7th
Neal Robertson 14th
Daniel Dreelan 15th
Jonny Dreelan 16th
Des Wheatley 21st
Jock Borthwick DNF
Chris Blackhall DNS

And therefore the final standings for the year are as follows:

1st Place and Celtic Speed Champion
Paul Bell

Dominic Wheatley 9th
Jock Borthwick 14th
Des Wheatley 18th
Dan Dreelan 19th
Jonny Dreelan =22nd
Neal Robertson =22nd

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Oli Mortimer came out of retirement to snatch a victory in the last race of the season

And looking at those results, it’s safe to say that they mirror the entire season for David Sleigh Racing. Although we’ve had high hopes about multiple podiums and many great battles in the top ten from all of our drivers, the end results from the drivers have never quite lived up to expectations. There have been a few bright moments, like Jock Borthwick’s podiums and a cracking newcomer season from Dominic Wheatley, but overall I’m sure the drivers will admit that they haven’t quite lived up to some of their own expectations on the track.

So I personally see the 2016 season as a transition year for the team, which we can use as a foundation for 2017 now that we have experienced what it means to run a team with so many cars. Despite the lack of track results however, the spirit within the team has been second-to-none all season. The atmosphere within the paddock has been extremely positive and supportive since the first meeting, with all the new members of the technical and support staff being welcomed into the family. And with the catering and hospitality consistently being of the highest standard throughout the season, it’s no surprise that the DSR pit became the epicentre of activity every month at Knockhill.

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Youngster Dom Wheatley was the highest finisher in the final standings for DSR. He also took the Newcomer of the Year award with his fantastic efforts throughout the season.

When asked about the how their year with DSR had been, the team managed to take time from their busy race day to summarise their personal views. Phrases like manic, hard work, eventful and emotional were repeated by many within the team, but I think head mechanic Martin Phillips nailed what David Sleigh Racing is all about. After a moment to think he said “This year has been challenging due to the results we’ve had which haven’t quite matched our initial hopes. But I wouldn’t spend my blood, sweat and tears on any other team”.

Showing that he can actually use his words rather than just messing around with torque wrenches, I think everyone in the team will agree that Martin hit the nail on the head. Whether the 2016 season has brought success, pain, expense, friendship, experience or even romance, every minute spent at Knockhill will have had a lasting effect on the team and should see us progress into a bumper year in 2017. There may be some changes along the way to fine-tune our formula for racing, but expect big things from DSR come Spring next year.

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DSR 2016. Over and out.