21-year-old Shayne Deegan's incredible pace has surprised many in the Mini 7 Racing Club, including car owner and seven-time Miglia champion Peter Baldwin. He currently leads the championship, having won eight from 10 races and breaking several lap records on the way.
In fact, this season he's only ever finished on the top step of the podium or visited the gravel traps at Brands Hatch – nothing in between!
With such a dominant performance so far in 2016, we decided he'd make the ideal next interviewee in the series.
Hi Shayne, so when did you first start racing?
I was 12, so 2007, when I started racing a 1000cc Autograss Mini. In 2008 I became the youngest ever Junior Champion, then won again twice before moving away from grass track in 2012. Then we went circuit racing in Citroen Saxos with the 750 Motor Club, came second in 2013 then won the championship back-to-back the next two years. Now we’ve come back to Minis with Peter Baldwin.
Are your parents into motorsport?
Yes they both raced themselves and are ex National and British champions as well – obviously I must have picked it up from them, and they support me all the way. They love watching the racing too.
You’ve come straight into the Miglias and dominated. How have you managed that?
I think a lot of the grass track racing has helped with car control, the lack of fear and ability to slide the car around the corners. I never expected to be doing so well this year; I thought it would be close up front. We’ll see what happens later in the season as I doubt it’ll stay like this ‘til the end.
The car must play a part too?
Yes, we’ve definitely got the right car and the right man in Peter to run me for the year. There’s not a lot he doesn’t know about making a Mini go quickly and the car’s won the championship multiple times with Peter at the wheel. He's rebuilt it so many times, he knows exactly how it goes together.
Hiring the car from Peter seems to have been a wise choice...?
Well I’d quite like to have my own car, but then I don’t know anywhere near as much about the set-up as Peter. I can go out in testing, say if it’s understeering or oversteering and he’ll sort it out perfectly. My dad’s business, Regency Autos, has four-wheel aligned the car for the past few years, even before I was driving it. Peter would come over and request it how he wanted the set-up. That's kindof how it came about.
How does it compare to the Saxo?
The Saxo was on road-legal Yokohama tyres, so there’s nowhere near the same levels of grip as the Dunlop slicks on the Mini. The corner speed is far higher so that’s taken some getting used to. In the Saxo I’d need to brake for corners that I can take flat in the Mini.
What advice would you give to a new Mini Se7en driver?
Just to have no fear really. When the car steps out, keep it pinned and have confidence in the car that if you do end up in a slide it’ll pull you back out again. Sometimes you need to slide to go fast on the limit.
What’s been your favourite circuit so far?
Definitely Cadwell Park. It’s made more for motorbikes and is seriously twisty, up and down, a lovely circuit to drive and we always go well there.
You’ve secured a drive with the Clio Cup – are you staying with the Mini 7 Club for 2016?
It’s only one round in the Cooksport Clio at the moment, so I’m definitely staying with Miglias until the end of the year. You need a fair amount of sponsorship moving forward, but this year has already opened things up. Peter especially has loads of contacts and has been a big help to get my name out there. A couple of people have asked me to drive for them. We’ll see what happens!
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