April 14, Mumbai/United Kingdom: Young Indian racer Mohammed Nalwalla will compete in the United Kingdom-based Mini Challenge series, a stepping stone for budding Touring car drivers. The 18-year-old racer has signed up with ExcelR8 Motorsport team for his maiden outing in the series in 2017.
The Mumbai-born driver will fight it out in the top JCW category. Other categories in the championship includes Cooper PRO Class, Cooper AM Class and an Open Class.
The Indian driver has successfully taken part in the two pre-season testing, the first one held at Britain’s Formula 1 circuit, Silverstone on March 14, followed by the second test at Snetterton on March 21. Mohammed was thrilled to have tested at the iconic Silverstone track, the home of the British Grand Prix.
Mohammed’s season will comprise of eight rounds at various top circuits in the UK, the season-opener to be held at Oulton Park this weekend on April 15-17. The weekend will comprise of an official practice on Friday, followed qualifying on Saturday, with two races of 20 minutes each on Sunday.
The MINI cars have three way adjustable Nitron dampers, quaife sequential gearbox and SCS Delta motorsport ECU. The 255 Bhp 2lt MINI TwinPower engine tuned to deliver manageable torque and a wide rev range, helps to contribute to laps times that worry some Touring Car specifications.
Since 2014, Mohammed has accumulated three years of combined karting and single-seater experience in Asia and Europe, more recently racing in the inaugural FIA Formula 4 South East Asia Championship, where he clinched multiple rookie podiums. Mohammed also competed in the JK Tyre-backed Euro JK (Formula BMW) championship en-route to a Top 5 finish in his maiden season.
“I am excited to announce my racing programme for the 2017 season. Over the winter, we worked hard and spent a lot of time in deciding what’s best for my future. I am pleased to move to the UK to race in the 2017 Mini Challenge Series in the JCW category with ExcelR8 Team,” commented Mohammed Nalwalla.
“The decision to switch from single-seater racing to touring car racing has been much discussed internally and after general tests, I feel this is the right time and age to change categories and build a career as a professional driver. The decision would give me more time and desired experience to move on to some of the popular closed-cars series, namely the FIA World Touring Car Championship, the British Touring Car Championship and DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters).”
“The two tests at Silvertsone and Snetterton went really well and in the positive direction. I managed to learn a lot about the car in general and the different controls, which will help me in the rookie season ahead. I am going into the season with an open mind as since it will be my first year, I’ll not only have to learn about the cars, but also the various race tracks in the UK. I am very much looking forward to the first race in Oulton Park, this weekend.”
The 2017 Mini Challenge calendar:
Round 1: Oulton Park – April 15-17
Round 2: Rockingham – April 29-30
Round 3: Snetterton – May 27-28
Round 4: Silverstone – June 10-11
Round 5: Brands Hatch Indy – July 8-9
Round 6: Brands Hatch GP – August 5-6
Round 7: Oulton Park – August 19
Round 8: Donington Park – September 23-24
About Mohammed Nalwalla:
The 18-year-old started racing in the year 2014 with his first-ever kart race in the Rookie Cup at Bangalore’s Meco Kartopia in March, where he attained a podium finish. Mohammed also competed in karting championships in Asia, as well as the United Arab Emirates, finishing fifth in the UAE National Karting series.
In 2015, the Mumbaikar attained Top 10 finish in the British Karting Championship race at Stragglethorpe. Mohammed then raced for one of India’s top rated karting outfit, Rayo Racing in the Indian National Karting Championship and KartOpen Championship. He claimed the runner-up position in his category in the Indian National Karting Championship with multiple podium finishes and pole positions.
The 2016 season saw Mohammed graduate to single-seater racing, as he competed in the JK Tyre National Racing Series finishing inside the Top 5 overall, with multiple podium finishes and a pole position. He also raced in the FIA Formula 4 South East Asia, which acted as the support event to Asian Le Mans series, Asian Touring Car, Asian GT series and the Sepang 24 Hours Endurance race. Mohammed attained multiple rookie podium finishes in his first open-wheel international outing.
For 2017, Mohammed has decided to make a switch to Touring car racing and will compete in the UK-based Mini Challenge series in the JCW category with the ExcelR8 Motorsport Team.
2014 – KartOpen/Rookie Cup
2014 – JK Tyre Indian National Karting Championship
2014 – UAE Rotax Max Karting Championship
2014 – Asia Max Karting Championship
2015 – UAE Rotax Max Karting Championship
2015 – KartOpen/Rookie Cup
2015 – British Karting Championship
2015 – JK Tyre Indian National Karting Championship
2016 – FIA Formula 4 South East Asia Championship
2016 – JK Tyre National Racing Series
About Mini Challenge Series:
The MINI CHALLENGE is the Championship for the new MINI in the UK since 2002 and has always enjoyed great grids, colourful cars and close racing. Over the years, the series has built a reputation for affordability, fairness and fun, building on the iconic MINI Brand.
In 2013, a new and enthusiastic team took over promoting The MINI CHALLENGE, with exciting new Best of British prizes and initiatives such as a Touring Car test for a JCW Class driver and a subsidised JCW drive for the Cooper Class winner. The MINI CHALLENGE also now boasts a dramatically increased social media presence with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube seen as primary media channels alongside more traditional TV coverage.
The MINI CHALLENGE regularly visits the UKs top circuits including Brands Hatch GP, Donington, Oulton Park, Silverstone, Snetterton plus, in 2013, the Dutch circuit of Zandvoort amongst others. The multi-class structure enables drivers with varying degrees of experience and budget to be part of The MINI CHALLENGE, whilst providing a natural route for progression.
As a true single make/model championship scrutineering controls mean that fairness is maintained so that drivers and teams can be sure that only skill and legitimate knowledge will have a bearing on race results. Budgets are also kept under control through restrictions on tyre use and widespread use of control parts in areas where performance advantage could be gained.