Brands new

Stephen makes it on track in ex­teremely test­ing con­di­tions, and sur­vives!

Mini Magazine - - Our Minis -

With one fi­nal push, the build came to­gether in a cou­ple of weeks, en­gine in and ready to run. It was an ex­cit­ing day as Paul Thomp­son and I had been work­ing on it at week­ends and every spare evening to get it to that point. Paul helped with a cus­tom bracket for the MED-sup­plied Se­trab oil cooler – said to re­duce oil temps by up to 10-de­grees over the bud­get types. So we fu­elled up with Shell’s finest and tested the pump.

A few fixed leaks later, wiring sussed out on the ex­ter­nal Lu­me­ni­tion ig­ni­tion box, and we had fuel and spark. Paul set the static tim­ing, I pushed the but­ton and it fired straight away – great suc­cess! From there was a blur of sus­pen­sion setup, cor­ner weight­ing, last minute spec changes and rolling road setup.

We were in­cred­i­bly pleased with the fi­nal power out­put, tes­ta­ment to the ex­haus­tive lev­els of prep and at­ten­tion to de­tail. Watch­ing the en­gine sing through its We­ber 45, MED DCR kit and reg­u­la­tion Man­i­flow sys­tem at 6,500rpm, it was clearly all worth­while. And com­bined with an over­all fu­elled-up weight just a smidgen over the tar­get 680kg, we knew it would be quick, so no pres­sure then!

Some­how we’d made it with a week to spare be­fore the Brands Hatch Mini Fes­ti­val, so I booked into a track day on the Thurs­day be­fore­hand. Jump­ing into a full­blown Mini Se7en qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion as a novice in a fresh car would have been dan­ger­ous, so it was a day well spent get­ting to grips with the car. Paul took the maiden drive and came back with a huge grin, then it was my go.

Wow! The han­dling has to be ex­pe­ri­enced to be be­lieved. With the Cooper S gearset, Brands Hatch Indy is just fine in third and fourth. You’re on the brakes, turned in and the back steps out a treat, lift­ing an in­side rear and straight back on the throt­tle. Quite a few things loos­ened or fell off and I fell off a few times, but by the end of the day I’d man­aged a 1:01.8, which is ac­cept­able for the S-Class.

Ner­vous as any­thing, we made it through scru­ti­neer­ing no prob­lem and into qual­i­fy­ing with al­most 30 other rac­ers. I was pretty chuffed with fourth in S-Class and 17th over­all. The race week­end passed in an­other nerve-wrack­ing blur - con­di­tions were ex­tremely tough for even the ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers but I came away with a fourth and fifth, long-last­ing mem­o­ries, and only a small amount of dam­age. I’m now fully ad­dicted to Mini Se7en rac­ing. Oh dear...

Paul sets up the MED ad­justable sus­pen­sion com­po­nents. Ex­tremely wet and foggy, straight in at the deep end! in­cred­i­ble. Rac­ing at Brands Hatch was

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