MAX BIRD TARGETS JCW TITLE WITH EXCELR8 MOTORSPORT SWITCH

The EXCELR8 Motorsport team has strengthened its bid to secure a second successive MINI CHALLENGE JCW title after attracting series front-runner Max Bird into the fold for the 2021 season.

Max joins the team for what will be his third year in the series on the back of a hugely impressive 2020 campaign, where he secured his first wins in the highly competitive one-make championship, and firmly established himself as one of the leading racers in the field.

As with many aspiring stars of the future, Max came through the ranks in karting having first taken to the track at the age of just eight-years-old, before graduating into cars in 2016 with an entry into the Ginetta Junior Championship.

That in turn opened the door for a move into the Ginetta GT5 Challenge – where he was a race winner in both 2017 and 2018 – before the decision was taken to switch into the MINI CHALLENGE for 2019.

After a solid debut season yielded a top ten championship finish, Max marked himself out as one to watch last year across a condensed five round season, shortened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following a tricky start to the year at Donington Park, Max produced a stunning performance at Knockhill where he qualified on the front row of the grid and then picked up a double race win; the first of which was by the largest margin of victory seen all season.

A further win during the season finale at Brands Hatch helped Max to finish fourth in the championship standings, with his three wins over the season being matched only by eventual title winner Nathan Harrison.

Having now joined forces with defending champions EXCELR8 for 2021, Max will go into the season amongst the favourites for the championship title in what looks set to be another hard-fought year on track, with confidence high about his chances as a result of the new partnership.

“I had a successful season in 2020, but I wanted more than just podium finishes and race wins,” he said, “so for 2021, I’ve joined up with EXCELR8 as I believe that they are the right team to help unlock the championship for me. The aim this year is be consistently in the top three in every race, and having a car that is perfectly set up by the team every weekend will be a huge help towards doing this.

“I’m looking to hit the ground running when the season starts, and feel confident about fighting for the title. There are going to be some very fast drivers alongside me on the grid, but I feel I have the experience to be able to pip them to the post.

“I am really grateful to ORBX, BlueBird Developments, Artec Engineering, Core Results Gym and Game Set & Match for helping me get onto the grid again this year. All I can say is, it’s going to be spectacular…”

Team owner Justina Williams revealed she was delighted to welcome Max into the team for the 2021 season.

“As a team we enjoyed a fantastic season in 2020 in the JCW class, and our goal in 2021 is very much to defend the titles we won last year,” she said. “Bringing in a driver like Max is a step towards achieving that goal, as he showed last season that he has the pace and the talent required to win races and be a championship contender.

“I have every confidence that he will be right at the sharp end of the grid from the very start when the season kicks off, and more importantly, will be in the thick of things when it comes to deciding who is the champion at the end of the year.”

The MINI CHALLENGE JCW season will kick off at Snetterton in mid-June, with a total of 19 races spread across seven meetings at the leading circuits across the UK.

Running alongside the British Touring Car Championship, Max’s JCW championship challenge will benefit from live TV coverage throughout the year on ITV4.

Knockhill Round 2

Knockhill is a track that I have been very successful at in the past in the Ginettas and this meant I was expecting the same in the Mini. The Monday test day was vey promising and I was very dominant 2nd overall across all the sessions.
Friday we had 2 test sessions and again I was very fast and ended up 2nd overall, this continued my confidence onto the Qualifying session on Saturday morning of which I was fastest until the last 20 seconds! I was gutted but I knew 2nd was still good enough.

Race 1 I made and amazing start and then was battling for the lead and I managed to get the lead and slowly pull away I was so consistent and this meant I pulled away and dominated the race winning by 6.7 seconds … something that no one in mini had ever done before.

Race 2 I started on pole as thats where I finished in Race 1 so I had a good start and took an amazing lights so flag victory and won by another huge margin.. what a dream weekend this was turning out to be.

Race 3 was a reverse grid start off p8 I didn’t make the best of starts but I then got spun around and dropped back down to p18. At this point I thought I am going to try and achieve as much points as I could so in 5 laps time I had made it up into p6 and at this point I was leading the championship… until the last corner where I hit the breaks and the pedal went straight to the floor and I had no way to stop the car so I hit the wall at over 70 mph and this would finish my weekend to be the best and worst weekend I had ever had.

Donnington Round 1

The season has finally started! testing at Donnington on Friday was very promising with 2 consistent sessions and finishing the day in 3rd place which gave me lots of confidence for the upcoming Qualifying on Saturday.
Qualifying was very close between the whole grid and I put in some fast times but I didn’t quite achieve my ultimate lap time which would of put me pole, instead I would start Race 1 in P11 not where I wanted to be.
Race 1 I made a good start and I felt like I was really struggling for pace so I settled for P9 which is were I would start for Race 2. I made a brilliant start but almost straight away took huge avoiding action of another car who was stationary on the grid, this meant I dropped down to p19, and I had a big job on my hands to then progress up the grid.After a great come back drive I finished the race in 16th. Race 3 I would start p16 and at this point I knew I had to really push myself and i climbed the grid picking several places up each lap to finish in a solid 7th place. This was a good end to an average weekend.

Reduced Season for 2020

Racing will finally start for the Mini Challenge JCW championship on 1st August with racing initially at least behind closed doors. The championship has been reduced to 5 race weekends between August and mid November. With the lifting of restrictions we have been able to do a couple of tests prior to the first race which have been promising and I am looking forward to the first race. I am delighted to be supporting the Race Against Dementia charity in 2020 and will be collecting for the charity at all of my races. 

2020

For 2020 I will be racing  again in the Mini Challenge championship but for this year I have changed teams to Elite Motorsport who are a very established team. We have completed 3 test days pre season all of them I came away from feeling very confident for the up coming season! Having last year as a learning one I have started where I left off in 2019 and the times from testing are very promising !

But the season at the moment is postponed as everyone will know due to COVID-19… but we hope to be back racing in 2020 so keep yourself tuned into my social media channels.

#birdistheword

Final Round Snetterton

Snetterton would be the host  of the final round of the 2019 Mini challenge season. 

I we had previously raced at this track earlier in the season and I hadn’t performed to the best of my ability purely down to some mechanical failures. Before the last round at Snetterton I did a test day with an instructor to gain the last few tenths so I was fast!

Qualifying came around on the saturday and I was very fast in the top 5 the whole session ! a big improvement on last time. My end result was P5 which I was very happy with and made all the hard work worth it!

Race 1- I started P5 and made a good start ! moving up to P4 where i stayed for a few laps and after a great battle I dropped back to P5 where I finished! 

Race 2- I got the reverse grid P2 and had a great start then 2 laps into the race I got shafted off of the track dropping me to last place! I then had to make up a lot of places which I did recovering back to P10 on the last lap but then on the last corner the ball joint on the steering arm broke! This meant I had no steering and went straight into the wall ! weekend over.

Lots of positives to take away from 2019 ! a tough year but a lot has been learnt and i have showed some mega pace against the drivers who have been in Minis for a while ! 

Brands Hatch GP – Rd 6

Round 6 of the Mini Challenge JCW championship was held on the Brands Hatch GP circuit. This was my first time on the GP track and I found it challenge and exciting circuit to race on.

We had an issue in qualifying which turned out to be related to the turbo boost value and I could only manage 15th quickest which was a little disappointing.

Race 1 I had a good close race and finished 10th.

Race 2 I started on pole because of the reverse grid for the race and led for the first 5 laps but I felt the car engine slightly loose power and I dropped down to 5th which I managed to hold until the end of the race.

Brands Hatch Mini Festival – Rd 5

The Mini Festival is a great weekend of Mini racing in which the Mini Challenge JCW class was the star attraction. This year the Festival took place on the Brands hatch Indy circuit and there was great racing throughout the weekend.

Qualifying was very close with only 1 second covering the top 17 cars on the grid. Unfortunately I got held up on my fastest lap and could only manage 16th place.

Race 1 was very close, I had to take avoiding action in the first corner as 2 cars went off the track which dropped me back a few places which I managed to make back to finish 12th.

Race 2 wasn’t so good as I was shoved off the track on the exit from Druids and into the tyre wall on the second lap and rejoined the track in 26th place, but managed to make back 6 places to finish 20th despite the car having sustained a lot of damage in the early accident.

Race 3 was my best race of the weekend, starting 20th on the grid I had a great race through the field and finished 11th overall. Now I am looking forward to the next race on the Brands GP circuit.

Donnington – Rd 4

Donington is one of my favourite tracks and one I dominated last year in the final round of the Ginetta GT5 championship, the corners and straights just making it into a perfect flowing circuit.

With continued problems across the season so far I managed to qualify P14 which was pretty good considering the issues throughout the qualifying session. So I would then start race 1 off P14 and before I could complete the green flag lap I broke a drive shaft and this meant I could not start the race, this was just a very unfortunate thing to happen DNS me from Race 1.

I then re-gathered myself for race 2 which I started off P25 due to my earlier race 1 DNS. I was feeling very confident and after a great start I made up a few positions to P20 but I was sure that the car was not running right I progressed on through the race not making up a lot of ground ending up P18 which was a solid finish.

Further component testing after the meeting found that my turbo was faulty and not producing enough power.

Silverstone Rd 3

Silverstone came and this is a track I hadn’t been to much before, so the knowledge on it wasn’t great. I was also unsure if the car would run right but for the duration of the weekend it ran without fail.

Qualifying was an interesting one because I decided to use old tyres to save myself for the races, this didn’t actually hurt my qualifying to badly. I managed to achieve P9 which I was relatively happy with, this would put me in a decent position for race 1.

Race 1 after making an average start I held my position and going into turn 2 another car spun throwing up lots of debris and mud onto the track directly in front of my car this then meant when I came to braking well I couldn’t due to the track now being very slippery and the car and ended up flying across the track and through the gravel and the grass, re joining the track down in 20th place, I then began my come back of which I managed to get back to 12th where I would start for race 2.

Race 2 I started in 12th place and even off the line made up one position then by the end of the first lap I was in P9 and making lots of progress , I felt so so confident with the car and she was absolutely on rails I then just kept on moving up the field to P6 where I finished but if only there was 1 more lap I would have been on the podium but I am happy with how the weekend ended and this just shows I am very competitive we just need to ensure reliability with the car.