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Snetterton Sprint Podium

posted 26 Oct 2016, 02:48 by Kieren McDonald

The mini se7en season had ended, but I was talked into entering a sprint event driving my Westfield SE narrow 1800 zetec. I had never raced in any other car or championship so whilst I was intrigued, I was also full of many questions and concerns. The sprint event was to be contested on the Snetterton 300 layout and organised by Javelin Trackdays Sprint Series. It was their season finale so I hope I didn't affect their championship standings!


There was the big question of travelling back and fore to Snetterton in the westie, with only the passenger side to carry anything. I was used to travelling to race circuits with a van full of tools and spare parts, not to forget, also warm and dry. I did however prove the MWB Sprinter could not quite house the westie, as it does the mini - not without a couple of modifications - so close though! I almost had to pull out when I realised the MOT had expired but thankfully Kevin at Hunters Garage came to the rescue.


After selectively packing and securing things into the westie it was onwards to start my adventure to Snetterton. The fact I had never driven the car in anger or even driven it at all on a race track was a little daunting. On top of that I am used to FWD on a race track, not RWD! How many times do you think I could spin??


We were able to get scrutineering out of the way Saturday evening. I was thankful Tim let me park the westie in the pit garage to keep dry overnight and David taxied me to the hotel and back - one less thing to worry about. The weather certainly did me no favours in easing my tension of this new experience in a lairy RWD monster - it was horrid - very wet and windy!


Once signed on Sunday morning, we had a drivers briefing - it was a very busy event and fully sold out - 70-odd cars! Following briefing we were straight out for 2 group sighting laps to see which way the circuit went. Luckily this was one thing I did know already, having had my maiden race win here just a couple of months prior in the mini se7en challenge supported by Mini Spares. It was extremely wet!


I was in class B3, which was quite a popular category aimed at kit cars of different makes, models and power output. Class B was first out in the super wet conditions for one untimed run. I was shocked at how little grip there was in the westie with R888 tyres (maybe a bit old!) even on a wet racing line. A sprint is only one lap, starting with cold tyres/brakes, with no opportunity to get heat into the tyres on the wet track. With no heat in the tyres, I had to be super careful to avoid the rear end overtaking me - in fact that did happen just the once in the untimed run at the hairpin (and thankfully the only time of the day!), where I automatically put more power down (default action for FWD!) when the rear came out, leading me into a spin. I made sure not to make the same mistake again! I found it incredible how careful I had to be - I could not put any power down at all until the wheel was completely straight and even then it would still light up, similarly when changing gears too!


There was time for two timed runs in the morning session, which were both extremely wet conditions. It was quite an experience of driving super careful in the wet with the aim of getting from start to finish in the quickest time possible without falling off the circuit. I did manage to take to the grass on the exit of the last corner in my first run due to locking up. The start point was on the exit of the pit lane by the marshal post and the finish point was just beyond the last corner near the pit lane entry. It was all very new to me and a big learning experience. I was glad to see the lunch break - not just because I missed breakfast but a good time to reflect ready for the afternoon timed runs.


Following the lunch break, the track had dried a lot, allowing for a different style to driving and confidence to be built up on a dry racing line. I was able to do two dry timed runs - each time the track had more grip. The 2nd dry run was my quickest and was set to be my best of the day at 2m15s32. I was really enjoying building up the pace and learning the car in the dry and was looking to pushing more later in the afternoon. However that was not possible - the heavens opened and we experienced a rather tropical stormy downpour! Any hope of improving times were now squashed.


I still headed out for two more timed runs in the wet and thoroughly enjoyed myself, setting quicker times than a lot of faster classes - in fact one of the quickest out of a field of 70-odd cars! My best wet lap time was 2m42s14. The time in the car when the track was dry really helped me increase confidence and was more prepared heading out for the wet runs afterwards. I have far more to learn with the westie to push it harder and that's without playing with tyres, setup and brakes!


At the end of the day, I had a surprise to be presented a trophy for P2 in class B3 - very chuffed and not expected at all considering so many new experiences in this adventure to Snetterton. It was a far more relaxed event to what I was used to, lots of variety, very open and friendly, but overall good fun. Who knows, I may try one again in the near future. If you fancy a go - get involved and go check out the Javelin Trackdays Sprint Series website for more info and have a go in 2017 when it starts back up!



Thank you for all for helping us get out there:

Simply Race
Mini Spares
Classic & Custom Works
Hunters Garage
Rainmac Crafts
Friends & Family (including those over social media)



Best laptime - 2:15:32 - dry conditions:


Slipping and sliding in the wet - 2:42:14:




Check out all the in-car video footage from throughout the season!
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Zandvoort Double Podium

posted 24 Oct 2016, 04:55 by Kieren McDonald

The Mini 7 Racing Club's season finale took us to Zandvoort for the second year running, although last year it was a non-championship round. I have fond memories with an extremely close 5-way battle, ending with two podiums, a P3 and a P2. Unfortunately this year the weather forecast was nowhere near as tropical. 


Both championships had already been wrapped up - Ashley Davies topping the points table for the mini se7en challenge supported by Mini Spares, and Shayne Deegan for the mini miglia challenge supported by Mini Spares. Well done to both of you. Due to a bit of bad luck earlier in the season, we were heading to Zandvoort purely for fun. The same was the case for the previous outing at Snetterton, where we managed to walk away with our maiden win! 


Following collection of the mini from Hunter Racetech where it received its pre-race prep with our ever reliable Mini Spares supplied parts, we travelled via the overnight crossing between Harwich and Hook of Holland, leaving far less miles to drive overall. Upon arrival we set up and sorted a few last jobs with the #7 Simply Race and Mini Spares sponsored mini se7en. Once sorted, it was nice to freshen up across the road at the NH Hotel and stroll along the beach - it really is a great place for a race circuit! 


The Saturday schedule was pretty hectic - following sign on and scrutineering, there was free practice, qualifying and race 1. On top of that we had super tricky weather and oily track conditions to deal with.


We managed to place ourselves 2nd quickest in the free practice session (and also find the gravel pit at the end!). It is always fun after a session fishing out a never ending mysteriously wedged pile of stones. Qualifying results placed us 5th and 6th for race 1 and race 2 respectively - not a bad place to be starting from. 


Race 1 was dry and started reasonably well but got a bit caught up into the first few corners. I managed to get past a couple of fellow competitors into P3 but then had a fair gap ahead of me, where I could make out Budd and Deviny battling it out for top spot. I kept my head down and drove consistent laps and somehow I could see the gap slowly closing. By the last lap I had really closed in and was on Budd's tail crossing the finish line in P3, the final podium position. I was extremely happy with my calm and consistent drive, also setting the second quickest time without any slip streaming. 




After a relaxing evening and an early night, race conditions were dry although the clouds were threatening to change that. I started 6th and had a decent start but we all had to be careful into the first corner with a slow miglia that had stalled on the line. Unfortunately the miglia was slowing me up lap after lap and I didn't force my way through earlier in the race, as did the se7ens in front of me. I finally got past but by that time I wasn't handling the race as well as Race 1 so wasn't able to push on as confidently. On top of that I had pressure from Max behind me and increasingly slippery conditions from the rain that started to fall. I managed to break away but still wasn't driving as well as the previous day. The clutch began to develop an issue three quarters of the way into the race and at one point I was worried I'd have to pull over when changing gear became more problematic due to the clutch not fully engaging. I was extremely happy to cross the line in P3 for the second time that weekend. 


Zandvoort has been kind - 4 podiums in 4 races entered at Zandvoort so a great record so far. A great testament to the Selby engine, gearbox and setup! Of course plenty of advice and guidance has also helped develop my race craft too! Simply Race on top of that has allowed me to practice the circuit on their state of the art, life-like simulators - great for learning a circuit, honing your senses and developing smooth inputs. Reliability has been great thanks to Selby, Mini Spares and Hunter Racetech, allowing me to have consistent track time and gain confidence with the car. 

Even though the weather was quite stormy - a far contrast from last year - we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had some great races. It is a great venue and yet again proving very friendly with the organisers, spectators and car clubs. It was really nice to catch up with everyone, even though it is always a bit hectic in between working on the mini. Hopefully next season we will be returning again. 

                             

The end of a memorable season has seen us walk away with 3 podiums in a row, including our first P1 - a great end to a season! The 2016 season has brought us 8 race weekends - we have competed in 12 of the 15 races that have been hosted mainly over double-header weekends. We have managed our first pole position, our first fastest lap, our first win, a total of 4 podiums, and a host of laps leading races with 20-30 mini se7ens following!


The season has also saw Leon Oli Window crowned with the se7en novice championship and Josh Collins with the mini se7en s-class championship - well done to both of you.


Thank you for all your invaluable support for helping us reach yet more podiums in the Mini 7 Racing Club:

Mini Spares
Simply Race
Selby Race Engines
Hunter Racetech
Classic & Custom Works
British Mini Club
MB Race Photography
Rainmac Crafts
Friends & Family (including those over social media)


Great pics from Matthew Barrington as always - check out his other photos on his Facebook page!! Also thanks to Sorrell and Fred for the podium pictures.



Race 1 video:


Race 2 video:




Check out all the in-car video footage from throughout the season!
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Maiden Win at Snetterton!

posted 28 Sep 2016, 14:09 by Kieren McDonald

Snetterton is already a distant memory and now we will be travelling to Circuit Park Zandvoort (Netherlands) for the Mini 7 season finale. Will be good to see Roald, Bonnie, Fred, Wies and the rest of the NL gang :-)

Reflecting back to what turned out to be a fantastic race weekend....

My last outing had been Brands Hatch Mini Festival, having missed Oulton Park, so it seemed like an age since behind the wheel of the mini 7. Selby ensured the engine was on song by tending to the cylinder head.  Hunter Racetech prepped a few areas on the chassis that required attention - a few parts had to be changed but Mini Spares were on hand to supply very quickly replacement parts, once again a cracking service. A few bits in the van had to be replenished so a trip to Motor Serv soon sorted that. I managed to get a few sneaky laps in at Simply Race to get my head in, which I find is a fantastic way to test a circuit no matter what you are driving plus it is nowhere near the cost of a real test session! We were ready for yet another road trip to Norfolk, for what was forecast an extremely wet weekend.

Dan Wheeler of Dread kindly lent us his gazebo to shield us from the weather over the weekend - without it, there would have been a few glum faces!  Qualifying was well and truly soaking, which I was looking forward to. We didn't have many laps to get our 2 qualifying laps recorded with it being a long lap and with mixed grids. I really struggled and came in quite disappointed, as I felt the car was driving me rather than vice versa. I was really surprised to find out I had qualified 3rd for both races - result!

Race 1 was pretty much the same with the conditions so I was looking forward to see how the race would unfold. I had a good start and was up to 2nd but later into the lap I could not stop it locking up, no matter how I braked or what line I took. I went off onto the grass 3 corners in a row - I was close to coming in as something did not feel right but I plodded on, losing some places and then gaining a few. I had absolutely no confidence with the braking and I ended up coming off the power really early and trying to be extra gentle with the brake pedal to avoid further excursions. It was a relief to see the chequer flag and surprisingly the car was in one piece and I still finished P7.

Sunday, I woke up refreshed and in good spirits - no doubt helped by the glorious sunshine that was beaming down - what a contrast to the previous day! I gave the car a good look over and fortunately found the cause of the braking problem. With that, I was full of confidence again, ready for some fun in race 2, starting again from 3rd. Without a doubt this race would be dry tyres!

I got off to a great start but came off the power to let Charlie in on the inside for turn 1 losing some pace. On the exit of turn 1 there was a collision I had to avoid so dropped back a bit more - this brought out a safety car. I really thought the laps would dwindle away behind the safety car and leave nothing for fighting back up the ranks but there were fortunately a few remaining. I managed to tag myself back onto the front pack in about 5th place. I kept patient and within a couple of laps found myself fighting for P1 with Graeme and Tom. I managed to sneak in front of Graeme at the end of the back straight, heading into the chicane and from there was able to stretch a lead knowing they would be battling behind me. The chequer flag came out and what a feeling - absolutely incredible and to remember back to that point, brings a huge smile!!!  The Selby engine, gearbox and setup is really superb - the power down the straights and out of the corners was remarkable. Hunter Racetech made sure the car was reliable and feeling great with application of the Selby setup and Mini Spares parts.

Thank you for all your invaluable support for helping us reach the prestigious P1 in the Mini 7 Racing Club:

Mini Spares
Simply Race
Selby Race Engines
Hunter Racetech
Classic & Custom Works
British Mini Club
MB Race Photography
Rainmac Crafts
Friends & Family (including those over social media)

 


Great pics from Matthew Barrington as always - check out his other photos on his Facebook page!!


Here is my in-car video for you to enjoy (camera angle isn't right causing brightness!):

Race 2:




Check out all the in-car video footage from throughout the season!
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2016 Brands Hatch Mini Festival

posted 15 Aug 2016, 10:50 by Kieren McDonald   [ updated 15 Aug 2016, 10:50 ]

Better late than never – a month has already passed since the annual Brands Hatch Mini Festival and yet somehow the sunshine is still shining as brightly in the UK.

There were a few things to sort with the car in preparation for the mini festival, following the poor luck we faced at Donington Park. Mini Spares were spot on in delivering some quality parts – motorsport is always last minute, yet the parts are always good and come through at the right time.  The radiator had to be changed as that had pierced after a tap behind Graeme when he missed a gear. Although I pulled over a lap later once the water temperature started rising, Hunter Racetech found some damage with a bent valve so clearly it had got a bit hot beyond the reading I was looking at.  Selby Race Engines soon had the head all back to normal and running sweetly again, ensuring the original performance.  Lewis managed to get my new windscreen installed, which was kindly sorted by Julian Proctor.

Classic & Custom Works turned around the front end repair, new grille, bumpers and arches in a matter of days at last minute. Rob did a great job as always and I love the way the car looks now.

The weather was scorching at Brands Hatch and I made the mistake of starving and de-hydrating myself prior to quali!! Unsurprisingly I didn’t feel completely “on it” but settled for qualifying 7th and 6th out of 34 cars for Race 1 and 2 respectively. No issues and the car was ready to go again. I wish I could have said the same thing of myself – dehydration had caught me out and did not feel at all well. Come Race 1, the bottles of water had started to pick me up a little. Big lesson – make time for eating and drinking at race weekends!

Race 1 went reasonably well but I just didn’t feel like I got into the groove until too late. It was eventful with a safety car period and when the race resumed I felt more with it and could feel things coming to me a bit more. Unfortunately, a late lunge from Tom up into Druids led to a big thump and some sideways action, dropping me back. I managed to finish the race and finished P7 so not too bad considering.  The car was all over the place – the main impact was to the rear right wheel leading to a bent stub axle pin. The alignment was well out on the front and rear and incurred some body damage. Tom, bless him could not apologise enough and helped loads in fixing the car. In true Mini 7 Club style, all hands were ablaze helping me to fix it ahead of the next race on the Sunday.  Big thanks to Endaf for the spare parts. Great work getting it stripped and back together by Lewis, Rob, Greg and Tom. Setup was nicely returned to where it was by Dunc and Greg. Top work guys.
Race 2 started 6th and had a really close battle with Tom and Charlie.  It was a shame we were slowing each other up causing the front pack to edge away. I hung back waiting for a mistake but a red flag ended any hopes of getting past so remained in P6. I felt I had the run but didn't want to make any lunges. The car felt good again following the work the previous day – a very positive end to a challenging weekend.

The next event is Oulton Park 20th August – it will no doubt be a great event but a shame to say I cannot make it. I look forward to watching TSL and watching everyone’s footage afterwards. The next races for me will be Snetterton and then Zandvoort.  Even though we cannot make Oulton we still arranged another really fun “testing” event at Simply Race via our Racing Events Facebook page. Along with some mini7 racers, we had some from the Metro Cup and also British GT, in the young star of Ross Gunn, Beechdean AMR GT4 driver. It wasn’t just race drivers though – there were mixed abilities and the aim of the events we organise are focussed on fun. Simply Race is certainly the best UK race simulator – very well priced, 15 well kitted pods and great service.  If you are ever around Milton Keynes pop in and have a go – from just £8 gets you a drive around a circuit of your choice in a car you choose.

Thank you for all your invaluable support:

Mini Spares
Simply Race
Selby Race Engines
Hunter Racetech
Classic & Custom Works
British Mini Club
MB Race Photography
Rainmac Crafts
Friends & Family (including those over social media)

 

Here are my in car race videos for you to enjoy:

Race 1:

 

Race 2:




Check out all the in-car video footage from throughout the season!
"Like" our Facebook page to keep updated with all things BigMacRacing!!

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2016 Donington Park

posted 23 Jun 2016, 05:32 by Kieren McDonald

The Leicestershire circuit of Donington Park hosted rounds 7 & 8 of the Dunlop mini se7en challenge and mini miglia, both supported by Mini Spares.  In the lead up to the event there had been severe flooding across the UK but luckily it was forecast to be dry during the event.

Hunter Racetech prepped the car ahead of the meet but unfortunately not for Max, as he was off on a pre-booked trip to Le Mans. There was little to do following the superb trip to Castle Combe but still very important to check over with a fine tooth combe to ensure reliability and make sure the setup was spot on. Stocks were topped up from a visit to the friendly bunch at Motor Serv and an order placed with Mini Spares.

We were delighted to have the garages over the weekend, making it that bit more comfortable to work on cars, relax and chat. Roland kindly delivered my latest Mini Spares order - a few consumables I needed to renew and also a new front grille.

Quali didn't go quite to plan as I experienced a misfire, which got progressively worse. I came into the pits a few times but a problem like this is not typically an easy diagnosis and fix.  I was surprised to hear I still managed to qualify 5th for the first race and 10th for the second race.  Following quali, we gave it a good check-over which all looked fine. Dunc, Dick and Selby looked at tracking down the cause of the misfire and made a few changes, including a sensor change. It would only be out on circuit we would find out if the problem was resolved.



Race 1 started very well - a good getaway off the line and swiftly gained positions up to P3. Soon I was ahead and dicing with Lewis. We exchanged positions a couple of times for P1 but were certainly slowing and allowing our fellow competitors into the frame. A couple of laps from the end I squeezed in front on the inside at Redgate but faced immediate pressure from Lewis down Craner. I was off the racing line and turned into the Old Hairpin carrying too much speed. My rear left wheel touched the mud slightly and immediately catapulted me across the circuit. 



Lewis had nowhere to go and we had quite a big impact, resulting in a flat tyre and damaged wheel for me so had to limp back to the pits with a DNF. Fortunately Lewis was able to regain control and finish in P2. Not quite the 1-2 we had hoped for but plenty of positives and learning to be taken from the race.





Race 2 was always going to be a challenge from P10 to get up the front. I started well off the line similarly to the first race and was able to gain positions, finding myself in P5. That almost changed where I was tapped into the last chicane but managed to pull out of the sideways drift and get back on form. The front 4 had broken away but I managed to break away from the next pack and nibble away at the front.  It looked like I was gaining, although was very difficult with no-one around to pace myself.
A safety car helped close the gap to the front 4 but it also put more pressure from behind. I got away well when the race resumed and was soon looking for a way past Graeme in P4. I was unlucky to run into the back of Graeme at McLeans where he missed a gear. The alternator pulley pierced the radiator leading to a few moments due to coolant spilling over my front left tyre. As soon as the temperature started to rise I switched it off and pulled over with the second DNF of the weekend.

Although two DNF's were very disappointing, there were many positives to take away from the weekend - yet again we were battling for P1, the car was reliable and plenty of learning to be taken from the races. Well done to everyone, especially Lewis & Rob who snatched P1 in front of the Motors TV cameras! It was good to see we also had a good amount of coverage, which is always great for our sponsors.

Next rounds are 16/17 July at Brands Hatch for the Mini Festival - the highlight of the Mini 7 Racing Club calendar. It is now time to prepare the car and myself with Hunter Racetech, Selby Race Engines and Simply Race.  I may need to visit Classic and Custom Works for some bodywork repairs and of course ensure my Mini Spares parts boxes are all stocked up! Credit to MB Race Photography for the great quality photographs.


Thank you for all your invaluable support:
Mini Spares
Simply Race
Selby Race Engines
Hunter Racetech
Classic & Custom Works
British Mini Club
MB Race Photography
Rainmac Crafts
Friends & Family (including those over social media)


Here are my in car race videos for you to enjoy:

Race 1:


Race 2:




Check out all the in-car video footage from throughout the season!
"Like" our Facebook page to keep updated with all things BigMacRacing!!

Follow us on twitter!

2016 Castle Combe

posted 14 Jun 2016, 07:23 by BigMacRacing   [ updated 14 Jun 2016, 10:11 by Kieren McDonald ]

Bank holiday 29/30 May took the Mini 7 Racing Club back to the previously water-logged Wiltshire circuit, Castle Combe.  This time however it was a different affair - no rain in sight.

During the lead up to the event, Selby Race Engines worked very hard on the engine. I was very eager to try it out - on paper it looked great. Hunter Racetech prepared the car to ensure everything was hanging together and pointing the right way with the Selby set up. Both parties have put an incredible amount of effort into ensuring everything was perfect, with no stone unturned. The quality of the Mini Spares parts is evident when being prepared - the parts are lasting well with no poor wear or play - just what you need when pushing these a-series tin tops to the limits!

I prepared by testing the circuit over at Simply Race. This is invaluable practise to get a feel for the circuit and racing lines - very cost effective simulator racing. I feel very privileged to be associated with this professional set up. 

We were lucky to have a free practice organised at Castle Combe on the Saturday morning. This was great for me, as I hadn't raced for a while (having missed Cadwell with birth of baby boy no.2) and to try the engine out. Immediately I felt relaxed and at one with the car. The engine was a clear difference - pulling amazingly in every gear! I was surprised to hear I topped the times from free practice, although didn't want to get carried away with myself - the real racing was still to come!

Quali was interrupted by a few incidents, unfortunately a few sustained considerable damage but glad to see everyone ok. Oil was dropped making Tower rather interesting! My best time was put in after the oil had been dropped but surprisingly placed me 2nd for race one and first...yes first...for race 2!! My first ever front row qualifications and first ever POLE position. What a feeling! This engine is superb!







Race 1 couldn't have started better with me moving straight into P1 and then having a great battle with Max, Lewis and Spencer. Swapping places mainly with Max throughout the race but keeping it clean was a great experience. I made a novice leader mistake by not checking for the last lap board and only realised when everyone started scrapping for position. I over cooked it going into the first chicane dropping me back to P4, which is how the race ended. I was slightly disapointed but not too much as I came away with fastest lap, a wealth of experience and a great close battle. Well done to Max, Lewis and Spencer.



Race 2 started like a dream - first ever POLE position start and stayed that way off the line. I used my head far more having learnt from the previous race and worked as a pack with mainly Max and Lewis, with Spencer also looming. Combe is such a fast circuit, yet we managed to keep contact free for the majority of the race with some epic close racing. I felt I was much smoother and drove a better race. Once again, I missed the last lap board (you would have thought I had learnt my lesson!!!) and only realised when it got a bit frantic into Quarry. I dropped back to P3 to cross the line, however Spencer was penalised for track limits so was promoted to P2. The first ever Selby 1-2-3 amazing! Once again, hats off to Max, Lewis and Spencer - cracking racing! Fantastic team results for Rob and Dick.

A weekend to remember and is certainly my best yet with more to come. A superb race car package and support around me has got me here and I am truly grateful. What an amazing experience - well done team! Credit to MB Race Photography for the great quality photographs.

Next rounds are 18/19 June at Donington Park in Leicestershire. In the meantime Hunter Racetech will be preparing the car and I will be preparing myself over at Simply Race - the best simulator racing venue in the country!



Thank you for all your invaluable support:
Mini Spares
Simply Race
Selby Race Engines
Hunter Racetech
Classic & Custom Works
British Mini Club
Opie Oils
MB Race Photography
Rainmac Crafts
Friends & Family (including those over social media)




Here are my in car race videos for you to enjoy:

Race 1:


Race 2:



Check out all the in-car video footage from throughout the season!
"Like" our Facebook page to keep updated with all things BigMacRacing!!

Follow us on twitter!

2016 Brands Hatch GP

posted 9 May 2016, 10:51 by BigMacRacing

What better time to update you all, whilst I'm sat in hospital waiting for the birth of Little Mac mk2!!

During the off season, my engine made its way to Selby Race Engines for a rebuild - it had not been pulled apart in a whole 2 seasons - impressive eh?! A testament to Rob's good work! A joint effort from Selby Race Engines and Hunter Racetech got my engine and chassis sorted in time for Castle Combe. Mini Spares lived up to their high quality expectations yet again with some late orders to allow us to get the car together in time. It is the combination of these quality parts, excellent preparation and engineering from Mini Spares, Selby and Hunter that keep us competitive and reliable.

What a disaster Combe turned out to be, thanks to Storm Katie. The organisers made the right decision though and hats off to them for safety first! The whole event was cancelled due to the submerged circuit and run off areas. However, a few of us managed to get a spot of racing in "virtually" at Simply Race, bringing a positive and fun end to the day once we got back home.

On the theme of virtual or better known as sim (simulator) racing, this is where I spent a fair few days in lead up to the next event at Brands Hatch GP. I also arranged an event on that very circuit for the club to get some practice in, as many of us have not driven the GP formation. Simply Race really know how to put a fun filled event on - everyone got some extremely good value laps under their belt and had good fun at the same time - a perfect excuse for us all to catch up. We had the pleasure of some non mini7 racers join us including some from the metro cup, BTCC and also British GT. We continue to organise similar events throughout the year - if you are interested keep an eye on the Racing Events Facebook page.

An evening track day at Brands Hatch Indy was booked via Open Track in the lead up to the GP event. It was the first Open Track session I have attended and I must say it was organised very well. The session was worthwhile in giving the car a shakedown - a couple of issues were found, some dust was blown off and rekindled my bond with the mini. It's especially fun when the supercars get smaller in your rear view mirror!!

Brands GP was a spectacular event with the main events being F3 and British GT - just a shame it was such a struggle to find space in the paddock with the number of large trucks and hospitality awnings taking priority. Our races were combined with the mini miglia class - what a sight for the spectators with us literally filling up every single grid spot! It was also great to see Rob from Classic and Custom Works pop along with his family to watch the racing.

Quali unfortunately didn't go to plan, unable to build confidence until very late into the session. By that time a red flag had been shown and there was only time for another couple of laps once things got back under way. Mixed grids aren't my favourite and once again I was compromised on my fastest lap. Afterwards Hunter Racetech found a similar problem with the engine that occurred during the track day. This had also led to oil finding it's way to my tyres, surely contributing to the under steer I felt later in the quali session. Not an awful lot could be done at the race track so a few tweaks were made in the hope it would reduce the problem for race 1 on Sunday. Asides from that the car felt great and was turning in well.

Race 1 and 2 were both on the action packed Sunday. I started race 1 in 10th place. Hoping to jump a few off the start, I did completely the opposite and had a poor start giving myself more work to do. The engine didn't appear to rev freely but was good enough to keep battling.  I didn't really get my head into the race properly so wasn't quite "on it". Even so I managed to finish P9 - not quite as I had planned but not bad considering the large grid.

Hunter Racetech did a great job to swap out my engine and install their spare - mini7 club sure has some friendly guys! It was all sorted in record time and ready for race 2. I started 9th, had an OK start and had some good battles. A much better race and was much happier with how I drove, although bit more time needed to get back to where we ended last season. The car felt great, unfortunately the race was red flagged due to a few incidents - finished P8. Given a few more laps I think a few overtakes would have been on the cards, as lap times were in our favour.


Cracking photos from the event by Matthew Barrington Race Photography - they really liven up our social feeds and let us re-live the action. Get in contact for any photography needs.

Brands Hatch showed a great team effort and reminded me how great our sponsors, supporters and family are.  Next round is 14th/15th May at Cadwell Park.

Race 1:

Race 2:



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Circuit Park Zandvoort - Mini Se7en Race Report

posted 7 Feb 2016, 11:48 by Kieren McDonald

A little late, but I thought I would upload the article that I wrote for Mini Magazine - it was published in the December 2015 issue 245.  Thanks to Jeff Ruggles (Mini Mag) and Matthew Barrington (MBRace Photography) for helping get it sorted. Here's the words from the article...


"The month of October, miserable for some; normally cold, wet and windy. Not for those of us in the Mini 7 Racing Club that opted to enter the British Race Festival at Circuit Park Zandvoort. Glorious sunshine forecast for the first weekend in October, free race entry, a road trip and an iconic race circuit. Did I mention a stunning beach neighbouring the race circuit too? It was fair to say this was far too great an opportunity for the Mini Spares sponsored mini se7en team of BigMacRacing to turn down!
A 6 hour drive from Dunkirk took us through France, Belgium and finally to the Netherlands, mimicking a typical IMM road trip. The circuit at Zandvoort, once frequented by Formula One goers, was nostalgic. The 1985 F1 race was won by Niki Lauda but the all-too-common noise pollution rulings, affecting many race circuits, halted any return for the pinnacle of single seater racing.



The excitement and anticipation was soon behind me once let out for our free practice session on Saturday morning. Fast, sweeping bends and plenty of camber to challenge. Now I know why Tarzan is such a famous corner - extremely high banked at the end of a high speed straight. No issues at all and some decent times - 3rd fastest in practice and qualified 4th.  To wind down, the organisers put on a fantastic BBQ with a British themed pub, a great way of sharing the festivities with the Dutch contingent of the miniracers Facebook group and mini 7 club.

We had 2 races on Sunday and got myself right in the thick of a great battle with 4 other se7ens; apparently the spectator’s highlight of the weekend! My dreams certainly came alive with a 3rd place in Race 1. Although I topped that with a 2nd place in Race 2 with another tremendous close battle. The results could not have been better, especially considering the worn tyres and awful grid starts for both races.

















The mini se7en is true racing icon, yet as with all series, development continues. The Selby engine and their newly designed straight-cut gearbox is a delight. The Selby & Hunter setup allows the se7en to navigate around the most daunting of corners at light speed. All of which playing a significant part in great lap times at Zandvoort; the perfect way to end a memorable 50th season of Mini7 Racing. Hunter preparation and Mini Spares quality parts brought a perfectly reliable weekend. Amazing all round – people, circuit and location – fingers crossed the Mini 7 Racing Club will be returning to Zandvoort in 2016. I couldn’t live the dream without the help of our sponsors and support – Thank you."


Race 1 video - finished P3:



Race 2 video - finished P2:





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Oulton Park Report

posted 12 Aug 2015, 12:37 by Kieren McDonald

Oulton Park was once again the host to the Northern Mini Festival, only a month following its counterpart in the South at Brands Hatch. The Dunlop Mini Se7en Challenge, sponsored by Mini Spares, is nearing the end of 2015 with the Championship standings leaving things wide open. Rounds 11 & 12 were always going to be hotly contested with everyone’s eyes on the top steps. The Oulton Park Mini Festival was run over a single day with a whole host of mini specific events and stands, although this does leave things a little tight in the schedule for the race teams; we are lucky to receive great support from the Hunter Racetech team to keep things in check.
















The weather forecast was spot on; it was a scorcher – maybe not the right choice to adorn jeans for the morning track walk, especially as it was the full International circuit of 2.692 miles! I do enjoy Oulton Park but last year was a difficult one, as clutch problems put an end to running either race. It’s got a bit of everything – plenty of high speed, winding, cambered corners – even a Nurburgring-style corner, Shell Oils, which resembles the infamous Carousel.

With sign on and scrutineering out of the way, it was straight into qualifying. With such a long busy circuit it was always going to be difficult to clock a clean lap, although I clearly picked the wrong time to go out onto the track. I only clocked 6 laps and was held up for almost all of that even with blue flags waving. My last lap was unsurprisingly the quickest, once I had got past but was still with traffic and without ability to build up high speed confidence ahead of a quick lap. That put me in 11th on the grid for Race 1 and my second quickest time placed me 12th for Race 2. I felt quite confident I had plenty more to give so was looking forward to the challenge in the races.

 














Hunter Racetech did a full check on Mini Spares #5 se7en ahead of Race 1, which was already equipped with a couple of new parts from Mini Spares prior to the event – mainly a new windscreen and high quality oil filter (same as Unipart, effectively re-labelled). I was a little slow off the line when the red lights went out and then lost out at Turn 1 so lost touch with front pack due to loss of momentum. To make matters worse in lap 1 I heard a ping and the steering went a bit wonky whilst the rear tried escaping me! The car was quite a handful but managed to keep it on the track, albeit at a slower, more ragged pace. I had a couple of good battles and had to defend a fair bit, whilst I tried to get the car into the corners – something the tyres and I didn’t seem to agree on!! I was happy to make the finish line and still in a respectable 11th place. 
















There was very little time in-between race 1 and 2, not leaving much time to correct issues or even do the basic checks and let things cool down. Hunter Racetech was at it again, immediately diagnosing and fixing the cause of Race 1 problems – a sheared stud in the anti-roll bar link. There was also a CV boot that had to be replaced and a detailed check over to prepare me for Race 2. I started in 12th but had a much better start, just squeezing in-between a couple of others that I managed to jump off the line. I was straight onto the front pack but had to take to the grass to avoid a spinning car on the high speed approach into Shell Oils. I kept my calm and just sat on the back of the pack waiting to see what unfolded and kept alert for any opportunities to exploit. My pace dropped off due to tyres mid to late in the race, leaving a larger gap to form ahead of me. There wasn’t anyone in sight behind so backed off a bit. Unexpectedly events unfolded right at the end – Davis lost gears so past him on the grid straight and then to find Hunt and Davies in the gravel at Shell Oils. Immediately after I saw a red flag ending the race, which turned out to be due to Smith rolling his car at Knickerbrook chicane – we were all glad to see everyone fit and healthy when out of their cars, although not a pretty sight seeing the damaged cars afterwards. I finished in P4 but due to red flag rules, I was changed to P7 as positions are taken from the end of the previous lap. I was happy, 4th quickest time and finally back in the groove after a couple of disappointing events. 

Overall an extremely busy day but a great race circuit and results. Mini Spares continue to be a great partner – they help me get out and stay out! The support I have received from Hunter Racetech, Selby Race Engines, Classic & Custom Works, MBRace Photography and British Mini Club is amazing. As always a huge thanks to sponsors, supporters, friends and family. The last 2 championship rounds will be faced at our local circuit, Silverstone, on their International layout. This will be the finale to the 50th season of racing in the Mini 7 Racing Club (not for me personally!!) and with mammoth grids, it is set to be an exciting showdown – hope to see you there! Highlights videos from each of the Oulton Park races can be seen below.

Race 1 race highlights:


Race 2 race highlights:


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2015 Donington Park

posted 6 Aug 2015, 13:25 by Kieren McDonald

Rounds 9 & 10 of the Dunlop Mini Se7en Challenge, sponsored by Mini Spares, was held at the East Midlands circuit of Donington Park; National formation. A great high speed, flowing circuit and not too close from our Milton Keynes base BUT not so great being woken by low flying planes in & out of the airport! The event was headline by the Trucks, so little and large, with us in minis. If you haven’t seen the Trucks in action, I’d recommend to watch them some time – plumes of smoke, whistling turbos and lots of sideways action.

Mini Spares #5 mini se7en and driver had been expertly prepped once again by Hunter Racetech and Selby Race Engines so there was little to do upon arrival. Once set up we were able to cover the car with a high quality, all weather cover supplied by Mini Spares to keep the elements away overnight. The qualifying session soon came following scrutineering, allowing us to test our rubber on the infamous Craner Curves. The car didn’t seem to be gaining speed and was very twitchy on the bends so I was soon back into the pits to see if anything could be found in the little time. Nothing obvious was seen so headed back out but experienced the same problems. The races were going to be exciting starting from 24th and 23rd. The problem turned out to be issues with rear brakes locking on so that was soon sorted back in the paddock ready for Race 1 later in the day.

A busy grid ahead of me starting back in 24th, I had an average start but was able to position myself well and gain places through the first few turns. Unfortunately many of the positions were undone whilst avoiding an incident at McLeans so leaving myself plenty of work to do. I was able to retake places and more to finish in 14th. I struggled to hook it up, with the car and circuit so had a good debrief and video review with Hunter and Selby crews. Thankfully there wasn’t an awful lot to do in preparation for Race 2 but Hunter Racetech ensured it was well prepared to give me the best possible chance of having a good run in the next race.



Race 2 on Sunday was forecast to be during the start of a thunderstorm but in true mini se7en championship tradition, it didn’t come early enough, although did start a little. There was a split amongst teams which tyres to go with, some chancing wets in hope of further downpours although we stayed on dry’s. I was determined to sort my driving out and make the most of changeable conditions. Starting 23rd, I had an ok start from 23rd and again positioned myself to allow further moves through the next few corners. Once again an incident put a stop to further progress – of all places, down Craner Curves, having to move off circuit unnecessarily and therefore plunging through the gravel at the Old Hairpin! The grid disappeared from me leaving a huge task ahead of me. I managed to get my head in and started attacking, taking some time to even get back with the back of the pack before then dicing my way through. The circuit stated getting slippery in places – a little more than expected in the braking zone for Fogarty Esses when making a pass. I had no choice but to shoot straight through the gravel, narrowly missing a beached car and back out onto the circuit back a few places. After quite an eventful but much better drive, I finished 12th – given the events, I was reasonably happy with that.

It wasn’t quite the results I was aiming for but a good weekend was had. It was good to see my little family and friends and a big thanks as always to our sponsors and supporters that help us majorly in this challenging championship. Mini Spares continue to provide excellent quality parts and service. Selby Race Engines and Hunter Racetech provide me a great racer and support in all areas. Matthew Barrington Race Photography provides great photographs and social media support. British Mini Club and Mini Magazine provides great support all year round. Thanks everyone! Next rounds are all in one very busy day at Oulton Park Mini Festival 8th August!! Hope to see you there.

Race 1 video highlights: 
 

Race 2 video highlights: 



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