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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Successful Fun Cup Championship debut for Gracie Mitchell

Gracie Mitchell enjoyed a positive debut weekend in the Fun Cup Championship at Oulton Park; immediately stepping into endurance racing, Mitchell adapted well to develop her racecraft while making consistent lap time improvements across the weekend.

Gracie Mitchell, Fun Cup UK, 2023 Snetterton
Photo credits: @robertborowikmedia

Making her circuit racing debut, Gracie Mitchell enjoyed a positive debut weekend in the Fun Cup Championship at Oulton Park. Driving for JPR Young Guns alongside fellow debutants Luke Hilton and Jack Noller, the trio of drivers achieved a best finish of 13th across two races in changeable conditions. Immediately stepping into endurance racing, Mitchell adapted well to develop her racecraft while making consistent lap time improvements across the weekend.

Gracie has enjoyed a successful career in karting and has recently been exploring options to transfer her skills to the world of circuit racing. This has included several tests in GB4 Championship machinery with experienced single seater team Kevin Mills Racing. Keeping her options open for the future, Mitchell secured the opportunity to compete in the final round of the Fun Cup Championship forming one-third of the JPR Young Guns team.

Gracie’s teammates Luke Hilton and Jack Noller have enjoyed success in their respective championships during the course of the 2023 season, but like Mitchell this was their debut event in the Fun Cup Endurance Championship.

Luke has competed in the highly competitive BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship, claiming four overall victories and achieving the maximum possible points at Oulton Park.

Jack meanwhile, has raced among a capacity grid of drivers in the BRSCC Gaz Shocks Mazda MX-5 Championship and has been a consistent frontrunner, ending the year with a double victory at Silverstone.

The Fun Cup Endurance Championship is now a well-established platform not just within Britain, but also Europe. Featuring identical silhouette style machines, close competition is guaranteed with the series attracting both novice and experienced drivers. The 2023 calendar has seen the racers tackle six different circuits prior to the season finale, with this event marking the Fun Cup Endurance Championship’s second visit to Oulton Park. A total of 26 racing hours had already been completed, highlighting the significant track time which is afforded to teams.

Gracie Mitchell, Fun Cup UK, 2023 Snetterton
Photo credits: @robertborowikmedia

Gracie’s weekend began with Friday testing and this was held in wet conditions adding to the challenge of her first car racing weekend. Conditions remained challenging for Saturday morning’s forty-five minute qualifying session, with the JPR Young Guns team aiming to cycle through all three drivers during the session.

The grid for both races was set by a random draw, however the team set the ninth fastest time in qualifying to give encouragement ahead of the competitive running.

The weekend format would see a change to normal, with a short one-hour sprint followed by a more traditional three-hour endurance race in the afternoon. The random draw saw Gracie and the team start race one of the day from 21st position, with only championship leaders Team Olympian behind. Luke Hilton took the start with the track predominantly dry, however some damp patches remained.

It was an excellent start for the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship race winner who gained six positions on the opening lap to move JPR Young Guns inside the top-15. Hilton continued to move forward by gaining three positions on lap two, before claiming a spot inside the top-10 by lap four. After moving into ninth, a safety car halted his progress and following the restart, he handed over to Gracie while fighting for a top-10 position.

Pit stops in the Fun Cup Championship at unrestricted and for a new trio of drivers, this was an extra challenge to overcome. The opening stop of the weekend saw Mitchell take control of the car and although dropping to 20th in the pit cycle, she was determined to make up for lost time.

Gracie immediately caught the EDF Motorsports team and made a move for 19th on lap 15. Her times continued to improve during her short stint and this allowed her to close in on the drivers ahead before handing over to Jack Noller.

Following the pit sequence, Noller was in 20th position but showed excellent speed to overtake two rivals on lap 20. Overtaking GT Radial on lap 22, this put JPR Young Guns into 17th position with the BRSCC Gaz Shocks Mazda MX-5 Championship driver setting personal best lap times for the car. Running with podium contending drivers, Noller’s pace was impressive in the closing stages and this saw the team complete their debut race in 17th position.

With all three drivers showing excellent pace, improving upon their pit stops would give them the best chance to fight inside the top-10 during the three hour endurance race later in the day.

Gracie Mitchell, Fun Cup UK, 2023 Snetterton
Photo credits: @robertborowikmedia

Drawn to start 14th for the endurance race, JPR Young Guns began in the thick of the action and once again it was Luke Hilton behind the wheel. After recent rain, the track was wet but this did not prevent Hilton from making progress as the young driver was up to 11th by the conclusion of lap two as the safety car was deployed. Once again moving forward, Luke adapted to conditions well and elevated the team to ninth place by lap 12 when he handed over to Gracie for her first stint of race two.

Mitchell re-joined in 16th following the conclusion of the pit cycle and her pace was extremely competitive, running lap times on-par with the midfield runners. Applying pressure to Fuelled Up Motorsport ahead, Gracie moved inside the top-15 on lap 18. As the track continued to dry, this offered up more opportunities to line-up an overtake and the drivers exchanged positions on lap 20, with her rival just holding onto the position. Running consistent lap times to conclude her stint, Gracie handed the car over to Jack Noller solidly inside the top-15.

Similarly to race one, Jack’s lap times were excellent and although JPR Young Guns fell off the lead lap, his lap times were rivalling the race leader and this allowed Noller to gain two positions across his stint to move the trio into 13th. As Luke got behind the wheel for a final time, his progress was interrupted by a lengthy safety car but nevertheless he was able to maintain 13th as Gracie prepared for her final run of the weekend.

Taking over the JPR Young Guns machine from 14th at the end of the final pit stops, Mitchell’s main aim was to run a smooth stint and gain further experience in her debut endurance race. Gracie dealt with lapped traffic well, another challenge which she rarely faced in karting, while improving her times on what was now an almost fully-dry circuit.

A further safety car curtailed the second half of her stint, however she handed over to Jack in 13th. Running with the lead pack in the final ten minutes of the race, Noller underlined the pace of the team and this resulted in the trio crossing the line in 13th.

Gracie enjoyed an extremely positive debut weekend in the Fun Cup Championship, with a packed schedule including qualifying and two races in one day. In her first appearance at Oulton Park, Mitchell’s adaptation to circuit racing went smoothly and this will encourage her ahead a winter where she will be aiming to put together a full-season programme.

Whether that is in single seaters or endurance racing, Gracie has proved she has the skills to succeed and step up into senior racing.

Gracie Mitchell, Fun Cup UK, 2023 Snetterton
Photo credits: @robertborowikmedia



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