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2015 Brands Hatch Mini Festival

posted 6 Aug 2015, 13:19 by Kieren McDonald
A little late posting it up on this website...

The highlight of the year soon came around – the season seems to be trailing along at light speed. The first of the Mini Festivals was held at Brands Hatch and what a line up – everything from historic minis, se7ens, miglias, mighty minis, the latest BMW minis and even spaceframe “anything goes” minis. Plenty of stalls and display stands surrounded the Kent circuit, including our championship and our main sponsor Mini Spares. Mini Spares have been an immense help to get us out in the Mini 7 Championship so it was great to see them at this prestigious event and catch up outside of placing orders. Among the crowds were those from further afield, most notably the lovely Dutch crew, mini racers, run by Roald Rakers.

There was little to be done to Mini Spares #5 ahead of qualification, as a keen eye had already been cast by Hunter Racetech back at their HQ. Once again, along with Classic and Custom Works, a new front end graced us following a hick up on the last rounds at a slippery Rockingham circuit – hopefully the last for a while. It was fantastic to welcome Rob Smith and family from Classic and Custom Works to the event – always very busy and passionate with many great projects on the go, but taking some time out to enjoy the British classics fight wheel to wheel. The weather forecasters delivered the sunshine ready for qualifying, where we set out on a busy 29 car grid and that was with a few missing, not to mention new ones soon to set foot in the arena. It is always difficult to get a clean lap at Brands with many cars fighting it out for their quickest lines around the tight and twisty track. Not quite as planned but we qualified 14th for both races but there were no dramas and everything ran smoothly so that was good. Frustration certainly topped my feelings getting out of the car so we set about watching the in car footage to work out what was going on. The car was checked over by Hunter Racetech to get ready for the first Mini Spares sponsored Mini Se7en Challenge race of the day.

The weather was still scorching for the first race, entering the race circuit along with 28 others, preparing for the 1st corner assault on the legendary Paddock Hill Bend. If you get a chance you really should walk the circuit to get a feel for the gradients and cambers involved! Unfortunately the 14th grid slot was placed on the outside but worst still, on the steepest section of the decline of the straight. The handbrake was not holding, proving a difficulty when trying to get a good launch – having to hover over both the brake and throttle was never a great recipe for a flying start. To make it worst I almost lost control going wide into Druids, putting me back into 18th leaving a lot of work to do. I got in gear and had a decent run but unfortunately some contact at Clearways set me back a bit (and lost me a bumper). Oil dropped all around the circuit led to stricken cars and everyone else sliding all over the place, eventually leading to a red flag being shown. The race was restarted with me starting in 13th but struggling to get off the line due to the carb icing up so lost a lot of ground. I had some good dices with my fellow competitors, a few close calls but ended the race in 11th.

Sunday brought a mixed bag of weather with the forecast looking wet for the race. We headed out on dry tyres, sat in the assembly area for a long time whilst the rain gradually got harder. A last minute decision led to a blur of hands, tyres and wheels guns and before you knew it I was on wet tyres and entering the race circuit – great work Hunter Racetech! The rain soon stopped for the race start, which brought me the same issues with no handbrake and icing up so an even worse start. The track was very slippery and drivers cautious in the first few corners with the wet tyre choice proving correct. I made a few places up, making the most of the tyres but the lack of further rain and ambient temperature was soon drying the track. A safety car was deployed following an awful accident for Andrew Deviny – very happy to see him ok, although the car did not look so great after a head on shunt into the Armco. Somehow I lost touch with the guys in front when the race was restarted but soon caught up and tried my best to make further gains. I ended up dropping off again when my wet tyres struggled and those on dry tyres were pressuring me, leading to me driving a defensive line. I managed to make one further place to put me into 9th place when I spotted a gap on the last corner, leading to a near photo finish over the line.

Overall I did struggle over the weekend but I think mainly due to not engaging my head. Hunter Racetech and Selby Race Engines provided a great package and support before and during the weekend – shame I couldn’t take full advantage. Still there were many positives (no new front end needed!!) and 2 finishes. Racing has its ups and downs but Donington is next and I’m feeling very positive ahead of tackling that immense circuit. Mini Spares continue to provide excellent parts, service and overall support – we are very lucky to be involved with such a prestigious company. British Mini Club continue to provide great support over the social networks and Matthew Barrington Race Photography manages to capture some cracking action and memories. Credit goes to Matthew for the photos in this write up – some of which are from Rockingham as I didn’t manage to write a race report then. It was great to see all the old and new mini faces at Brands and really hope to chat soon – whether that be over Facebook, Twitter or in person at the next rounds of this fantastic racing championship. See you all at Donington Park 25-26 July!! J

Race 1 video highlights: 

Race 2 video highlights: 

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