Oliver Bennett: Season Review
(December 26) – British driver Oliver Bennett made his first-ever motorsport start outside Europe in round two of the inaugural Americas Rallycross (ARX) season at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
Bennett’s ARX season in his striking Mini Cooper Supercar began with intention. He led his first race in Q1 at COTA ahead of Loenbro Hoonigan’s Ken Block and Subaru Rally Team USA’s Chris Atkinson, and even continued to split the pair after a lap four joker, but spun on the final lap and didn’t score a time. He had technical issues in Q2, but improved his times with every qualifier and had a close lap one fight with Loenbro Hoonigan’s Steve Arpin in Q3. Bennett then just missed a place in the final when he finished behind Atkinson in semifinal two.
The Xite Racing driver returned to ARX in round three at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres in Canada and beat Team STARD driver Rene Munnich in the times in Q1. He set solid pace with fifth in Q2, but finished the Q3 race on Sunday morning with the 600bhp Mini full of smoke. An engine compartment fire was extinguished after Bennett stopped beyond the finish line, but the damage was enough to keep him out of Q4, then problems related to the fire damage stropped him again in the semifinals.
In the final ARX race weekend of the year at COTA, in a return to a circuit that Bennett had raced on before, the Mini driver was ninth and then eighth in Q1 and Q2, before taking the holeshot from third on the grid in Q3, but was hit in the rear in turn one by Subaru Rally Team USA’s Patrik Sandell. Bennett spun through 360 degrees and kept going, but had contact at the joker exit on the approach to turn two with Subaru’s Atkinson, spun again and didn’t finish. In the semifinals, Bennett made another fast start, nudged Atkinson into the turn one joker but had contact again on the exit and was pushed off the track. His race later ended in a tire wall.
Bennett’s first year of racing in the US – in the inaugural ARX season – ended with seventh in the standings.
OLIVER BENNETT: 2018 ARX SEASON PHOTOS