Oliver Bennett season review
– How would you evaluate the first season for XITE Racing in World RX with the MINI?
We decided around November of 2017 we were going to build this new MINI and 4 months later we were sat on the grid in Barcelona, with 18 other supercars with drivers I looked up to from a young age, having competed a year in British rallycross and doing favourable well.
Some might say it was almost a perfect recipe for disaster… taking a car straight out the garage to a WRX event, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
We survived the first event, finishing a respectable 15th overall and from that period we went on to race every WRX round (apart from Belgium) and also a few ARX rounds!
The main thing was learning the tracks for me, the car performed great all year without any testing and we could see by Q4 of each event we were on the pace, just unfortunately that’s too late in WRX but it makes the outlook for 2019 look really XITE’ing for us as a team!
I have made some great friends and competitors this year, we have had our head down quietly learning the ropes and gaining knowledge at each round… the future looks promising.
– What was the highlight of the year?
A few aspects really stick with me from this year looking back, from my first qualifier win in Loheac to tagging on the back of Leob for a qualifier in Holjes highlighting our pace at that circuit!
And of course, the engagement of the crowds for the Mini was crazy! I can’t even remember how many MINI cars keys I signed, that was a bit surreal!
I can’t say there’s an event im not looking forward to returning to next year, I just wish it would come sooner!
– How do you feel about the calendar being reduced to 10 events now that COTA has been postponed until 2021?
COTA is a great loss personally as the fan engagement out there was so high for the MINI probably the highest of every series! Ill for sure try to get out there for an ARX round if the sponsors have an appetite for it!
I think it’s great we will get back out there, and I think its probably the good decision to let the ARX grow the sport a bit more out there before we return for the full show! The fans will come out there that’s for sure!
– What difference does it make to the privateer teams to have 10 events?
I think it’s a good thing for the logistics and operations, it’s tough for a team like ours to run privately and attend all of these events so every event is a large cost and it now being 10 events means we are likely to be a full-time entrant for 2019 as its more manageable.
– You have recently advertised a drive in a second MINI in World RX (and also a drive in a Fiesta in Euro RX). Can you tell us more about this?
Yes, were looking at all options, obviously as a private team a heavy investment is in all of the equipment to run the cars and get them to and from events.
The actual running of the car is somewhat simpler (unless I go into anything… but that’s another issue_
For 2019, with the more privateer focus it made sense for us to open up our expertise to other younger challenge drivers wanting to get in the scene and drive.
We have the WRX Fiesta I drove in the BRX which is a really strong car for the European series ready to race which would suit an RX2 driver as a move up, or likewise we can obviously build a car under pressure… so if anyone was looking for the main step to WRX there’s that option too…
We’re not put off running other people’s cars too within our XITE setup for 2019 and are talking to a number of teams new and old that have one car and feel could benefit from a mutual partnership, again to address running costs as the series looks to go on!
– What are XITE Racing’s plans for 2019?
A lot changed, previously I would have been setting my aim on a semi-final for a good number of rounds based off our Q4 pace… now with a reduction in factory teams I might set my sights a little higher… I don’t see any reason we couldnt make a final in 2019 with the right determination and work ethic! Let’s see 😉