BENNETT Q&A - "WE'VE MADE SOME BIG CHANGES OVER THE WINTER"
Thursday 7th of February 2019
Britain’s Oliver Bennett launched his 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship programme earlier this week with the Xite Racing team.
Before Bennett begins pre-season testing this week, we caught up with the 26-year-old to get more of an insight into the MINI Cooper S driver’s plans for the forthcoming season.
How would you evaluate your performance in your debut season?
“I get asked this question a lot and it makes me realise how far we came through the year. We built the car in three months and arrived at Barcelona not knowing if it would last a whole lap because we didn’t even have time to test. Before we knew it, we completed nearly every World RX round plus some extras, I think that achievement alone was amazing.
What tops it off more is, we didn’t have time for one test day all year and by Q4 at most tracks once I had learned the circuit we were so close to the pace, that gives us confidence for what we could be capable of this year.
One thing I learned, which I noticed when I went back to the race in the British Rallycross Championship and was leading quite comfortably (until the car caught fire), is that patience and consistency are keys to being fast, sometimes more throttle doesn’t always make you go faster in these 600bhp cars.”
What are your expectations and targets for 2019?
“We have high expectations as a team and for me as a driver. Last year we started off without a lot of resources, no car set-up and each track was new to me. This year we have a solid team, the right set-up to be competitive and I know where I’m going (for most tracks). I think it could be a great year for us. Semi-finals and finals are truly on the list for this year.”
What changes have you made to the car and team over the winter?
“We have made some big changes this winter, from not changing anything all year with the mindset of “its running, let’s just keep going” we finally had a chance to sit back and reflect on what needed changing and improving from the three-month build.
What’s exciting is we have some changes that will gain us one second per lap, the more experienced teams and cars are fighting for time to find tenths of a second. Considering we weren’t far off the pace, that we can find that much is quite promising and hopefully that means our top line trajectory is beyond what the others can get, which should reflect the results.”
Why have you asked your fans to help design your 2019 livery?
“Last year we opened up our livery design and what we got back was amazing. With our growing presence in rallycross and World RX I thought we would do the same this year. We had 60 people sign up after just two days of the competition opening. It’s great to get the fans involved and the fact they can watch World RX live or on TV and see their creation is pretty cool.”
How does it feel to know you will again be competing in front of your home fans at Silverstone this year?
“After going back in the British for the final round last November and seeing how much speed I could find at that track, I’m really excited to get the MINI back out there for the World RX. I think we have a really strong chance at that track.”
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