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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:

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