Nevill finishes season on a high
Nevill finishes season on a high

Alex Nevill was able to finish his season on a high at the final round of the 2020 Mini Challenge Cooper Trophy championship at Donington Park on Saturday with two top 5 finishes at the Leicestershire venue.

The rescheduled final round was a trip into the unknown for the Kent racing driver and his fellow drivers, with a rare December race meeting providing the challenge of a much colder circuit than the championship would usually race on.

Alex adapted well to the cool temperatures and was able to qualify fourth, just two tenths of a second away from pole in a typically competitive session for the Cooper class.

This was despite the Graves Motorsport driver finishing the session in the gravel trap following contact with another driver at the high speed Craner Curves section of the circuit.

At the start of race one, the competitive nature of the Cooper Trophy was once again on display with the Motorsport UK Academy squad member forming part of a four car breakaway group at the front where each car was setting lap times within a couple of tenths of each other..

Their hard work to pull away from the rest of the pack was to be undone by a late race safety car however, which lead to a one lap shoot-out at the end of the race. Although Alex initially dropped back to fifth place on the restart a brilliant move at the last corner of the race saw him move up to third place to take his second podium of the year.

That was until a protest launched by one of the drivers involved in the battle resulted in Alex being handed a one second penalty that moved him back to fourth for gaining an unfair advantage after light contact was made on the approach to the last corner.

Although it took away the trophy, Alex crucially kept the championship points for third place as the driver promoted into the position was a guest driver who wasn’t eligible for points. This meant Alex still had a mathematical, albeit highly improbable, chance of winning the championship in the final round.

Race two, and the final race of the season, produced a thrilling fight for the win between seven cars including Alex. Ultimately Alex was to lose touch with the lead pack after having to take avoiding action through the chicane after an incident unfolded in front.

The subsequent trip through the wet and muddy grass for the number 16 car resulted in a 10 second deficit to the lead pack and a fifth place finish.

Although it was Alex’s strongest meeting of the year in terms of results across the weekend, it wasn’t quite enough to make any further progress in the championship.

The 2018 Cooper Am champion finished the season in sixth place in the final standings, tied for points with the fifth place finisher but just loosing out under the championships countback rules. It wasn’t the resulted Alex dreamed of pre-season, but he’s appreciative of the positives from a good season overall.

“We don’t go racing to finish sixth, but at the same time I have to appreciate that in a grid as competitive as the Cooper Trophy that’s still a big achievement” Alex reflected.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t finish the season with a win, but there’s still so much for us to be proud of. We had the best average qualifying position of anybody across the 25+ car field and after all of our setbacks this year we were still a title contender until the very last race.

“I’m proud of those achievements, and I’m grateful for the chance I had to race with Graves Motorsport this year. Now it’s time to focus on my 2021 plans, where I hope to continue to develop and grow as a driver.”

Image courtesy of Jakob Ebrey