Nevill proud of season
Nevill proud of season

Alex Nevill is proud of the season that he had in the Mini Challenge Cooper Trophy Challenge despite the stop start nature of the season.

The season was delayed and then started, ran for a while then was stopped and eventually came to a finish in December.

Speaking to Kent Sports News, about one of the strangest seasons he has raced, Alex said: “It certainly was! Our season was still two months away from starting when the first lockdown began, in the end it meant we had a 10 month break between the end of the 2019 season and the start of the 2020 one!

“The toughest part as you say was the end of the season, as our final race weekend was set to be the same week that the second lockdown started. Thankfully the series organisers were able to re-arrange it for December, but it made it a difficult event to prepare for. There were some changes to the events themselves in terms of briefings and scrutineering etc. all being done online, but once I was in the car it was business as usual.”

Despite the way things went to start with Nevill can look back on his season as ultimately being one of success, as he had a chance of winning the title going into the final round.

He added: “Overall I’d say we had a year to be proud of. We had a few problems with the car over the year that cost us good results. The car cut out whilst I was leading at Snetterton for example, and I didn’t even get to start the first race of the year at Oulton Park after a clutch failure on the warm up lap.

“Issues like that were frustrating, but they’re a part of the sport and there was nothing we could do about them. But as you say despite all that we were still in mathematical contention until the last race despite all of these setbacks, and that in itself is a great achievement.

“The results might not have been as good as we wanted, but the pace was always there and the performances were good. Ultimately we can’t ask for any more than that.”

The Mini Challenge Cooper Trophy was part of the British Touring Car Championship support for a couple of races, and Nevill enjoyed being part of the paddock.

“It was a real shame that we had to race behind closed doors, as that meant we didn’t get the full BTCC experience of racing in front of the usual huge crowds. It was still awesome to be a part of the paddock though, having watched the BTCC my entire life it meant a lot to be a part of the show. Being a part of the live coverage on ITV4 was great too, and I really noticed a big increase in terms of support as a result of it.”

One thing that you notice is that the Coopers produce some excellent racing each time you watch them and that is just what the racers want.

Nevill said: “The Coopers have always produced great racing, but this year it was like a completely different championship. The grid was triple the size of the one we’d had in 2019 and absolutely stacked with talent. We had everyone from drivers straight out of Karting to oval/stockcar champions, and the usual drivers returning to the championship such as myself.

“I’d say there were probably 15-20 drivers who were capable of winning races and I think that’s why we were able to put on entertaining races. I think race three at Thruxton was the best one, I was two tenths off of the win there but that meant I was fifth.”

Looking back at the season we asked Alex whether there was a highlight or even highlights from the season.

He added: “Taking pole at Croft was a great moment for me. To be the fastest in a 30 car grid where everyone’s in the same car is always an achievement, and to do it on a BTCC weekend was even sweeter. It was a real shame when the ABS failed in the race, which cost us a shot at the win. That was probably one of the lowest points of the year.

“Other than that race two at Snetterton was the other highlight. I lead at the start until the car cut out, but from there I was able to fight my way back up to second and nearly won the race at the last corner. It was gutting to miss out on the win, but at the same time I know that if it hadn’t been for that issue we would’ve dominated that race.” 

Nevill was back with the Graves Motorsport guys in 2020 and that relationship helped them to work well together during the season.

“The Graves guys have been fantastic. I don’t think I’ve ever driven better than I have this year and a lot of that is down to them. They’ve put the fun back into my racing after a tough 2019, and given me a chance to be a front runner in every session. I’m hoping it’s a relationship that can continue for years to come.”

Thoughts now turn to 2021 and whether Nevill stays with the Mini Challenge or whether he looks to make the move to a new series.

He said: “My 2021 plans are still a work in progress, but I’m hoping to make a step up to a higher category this year. It would’ve been great to return to the Coopers and fight for the title. But in reality the next step in my career is more important than any results I can get in the Coopers so that needs to be my focus now. Hopefully we’ll have an announcement soon.”

Images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey