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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!
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