Brands Mini Festival June 27th & never quite made it to the 28th
The Mini Event of the year a race weekend totally dedicated to Minis!
Testing seems a distant memory now especially after the events of the following Saturday. We had been testing earlier in the week at an open pit lane test rather than the 'allocated timeslot' Friday test as we needed to try a few things out. As I have said before, sometimes when the 'test' is sessioned it can be a tad detrimental to what you are trying to achieve as you try something out then, when your session is finished, it could be 45mins+ before you are back out again - so you run the risk of losing genuine back-to-back testing.
So the Friday test this time was just in the afternoon and no more than a shakedown - a few laps to make sure the car was OK, nothing loose, no rogue temperature and/or pressure readings. All was OK so the car was rested and wrapped up then off to the bar for a good night’s rest… erm bed I mean definitely not the bar :o)
Saturday Race Day
Qualifying, was dry and not a rain cloud in sight, so slicks were easily the order of the day! Nothing spectacular in qualifying other than to say that with Brands Hatch Indy being a short lap, half a second can be the difference between pole and sixth. I qualified 7/20 for Race 1 and 7/20 for Race 2, with the top 11 cars being within a second of each other - so you could say it was quite tight! I'm not too disappointed, but less than half a second would have put me on the front row.
Oh where to start! I got off the line OK maintained 7th place then had probably my most enjoyable race so far this season, swapping places with Drew and Burge before I finally managed to pull away from Burge just enough to not have to drive defensively and be able to take the quick lines. Now I didn't have to worry about leaving doors open and could focus on putting myself in 4th place and looking at attacking or at least trying to pull the lead three back in. Then disaster - a tangle when lapping a backmarker resulted in the car visiting the barrier at Surtee’s then partaking in barrel-rolling - I think the count was three times!!
The car was a complete mess and is a long and expensive winter re-build however much more importantly for my wife and children (well children at least) the cages in these Migs, when built properly, are superb and I came out of a rather terrifying accident with no more than a bruised ankle and broken wallet.
Sunday Race 2
Never quite made it, the picture may help explain why!
Firstly a massive and I mean MASSIVE “BIG-UP” to Owens Fabrications for building me a completely new Miglia from a bare shell in 3 weeks…yes 3 WEEKS! A phenomenal effort, thankfully at the time they had nothing else to do apart from chase sheep around the field so working on a car made a nice change for them!
I will admit though, I was a tad tentative in the car for the first time since taking Clearways on my roof - and the fact it was raining did not really help! Still, time in the seat is invaluable so we plodded on and racked some laps up, mainly to make sure nothing fell off the car and I’m pleased to say it didn’t!!
At least it was dry. It took me a little while to get back in a race pace groove and qualified 9th and 12th for both races which, after running up the front end for the early start of the season, was a little disappointing.
A lightning start managed to put me from 10th place to dead last (note to self: you’re not driving the automatic A6 Audi - you need to actually use the clutch!) and things didn’t really improve from that point on. I managed to get back up to 9th but the gap between 1st to 6th was 13 seconds further up the circuit with the battle for 7th to 10th covered by one second at the end! The positive was to be back in the car at a race pace dicing with others and not having any ill effects from the previous outing.
Sunday Race 2
Again, as Saturday the race was dry as we managed to sneak our race in just before the heavens opened - which makes a nice change normally we are stuck before being called to the holding area in a “shall we” / “shan’t we” dilemma about putting wets on!
Another trademark lightning start left me in last place but one, so next year I’m campaigning for rolling starts or we all have to use auto boxes!
This race invigorated my racing juices - a great race and long battle with a final placing of 8th. It may have been a place higher had I not had to take evasive action when turning into Roberts/Goddards/Essess (call it what you like it seems to have 3 names) only to find a car alongside completely out of control with no chance of stopping resulting in me taking to the gravel to avoid a T-Bone - but then on the flipside it may have also been a place lower had a certain different driver been successful in trying to put me into the pit lane grandstand!! Still nothing a post race chat and handshake didn’t sort out!
Anyway, with the car packed up and on its merry way across the Severn Bridge it allowed me to indulge in my favourite pastime on the way home…… KFC!!!!