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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!
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