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