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Bavarian MINI Challenge Competitor James Turkington

Racing driver James Turkington recently met with our product genius Philip Campbell to give us an insight into his racing career so far.


Bavarian MINI are delighted to be sponsoring James Turkington this year as he takes on the MINI CHALLENGE, with a seat in the MINI UK VIP Customer Team. Together, we will also be competing in the Retailer Cup, with a total of 10 dealerships across the UK taking part.

The 22 year old has just finished studying a degree in Business Management at Ulster University and is adjusting to life back home in Portadown. Unlike a lot of his competitors, James didn’t start racing in karts at a young age and working his way up. Instead his racing career only really began in 2012 when he entered the N.I Ford Fiesta race series at Kirkistown Racing Circuit. He went on to win the championship both that year and again in 2013.

In 2014 James went a slightly different route and competed at several tarmac rally events in a MK2 Ford Escort. There was a lot to take on board as a rear wheel drive car has very different handling characteristics, and having a co-pilot sitting beside him also took a bit of getting used to! While he learned a lot in a short space of time, he was plagued with mechanical problems and this led to him even having to retire from some events.  

For 2015 he decided to go back to circuit racing, and entered into the N.I Saloon Car Championship in a SEAT Leon Supercopa. At 300bhp this was more powerful than anything he had raced before, and there was also the challenge of adjusting to left hand drive, but despite this James went on to win the championship that year. Clearly the race circuit is where he belongs!

It was on a recent trip over to Autosport International in Birmingham’s NEC that James got chatting to the guys from the MINI CHALLENGE Team. They saw that he fitted in with what they were looking for and so he was appointed as one of the main drivers on the team, alongside Charlie Butler Henderson and Rob Smith. His Challenge Cup car has been tuned to over 260bhp, and is fully kitted out with a host of top quality components, such as the 6 speed sequential Quaife gearbox, Alcon brakes and Mintex pads, lightweight Team Dynamic wheels and Dunlop tyres, 3 way adjustable Nitron dampers, Powerflex bushes, and a Scorpion exhaust system.

On his first race of the season at Donnington Park, and with very little set up time on the car, James finished a respectable 10th out of a grid of 32 cars. This past weekend he improved on that, finishing 7th and 9th in his races at Silverstone. After trying several different set ups on the car he now feels a lot more confident in it, and having just finished with university, James says that he will finally be able to clear his head and is looking forward to putting his focus on the racing.

Everyone at Bavarian MINI wishes him all the very best for the rest of the championship. We will be doing regular posts on here to keep you up to date as he progresses through the ranks, and may even have some in car race footage so you too can experience what it is like behind the wheel! The MINI Challenge series also gains even greater coverage this year as it will be shown on Channel 4 and Motors TV.