MN’S Hal Ridge de­cided to put down his note­book and buckle up

Motor Sport News - - Test: Mn Does Rallycross - TECH SPEC

a some­what sur­pris­ing eighth over­all and top BMW Mini. The rea­son for the way­ward ap­proach was the new tyres, pre­vi­ously I had been on worn rub­ber and while new front boots ob­vi­ously made the car faster, it was now get­ting as side­ways as had been pre­dicted.

Start­ing from the front row for Q2, I took the lead into the first cor­ner, cover­ing the in­side line prob­a­bly more tightly than re­ally re­quired, and led for the first lap, but on the loose on lap two I could do noth­ing to fend off Alex Fawcett in his Su­per­mod­i­fied Vaux­hall Ti­gra; a lighter, more pow­er­ful car us­ing more suit­able tyres for the con­di­tions. I set­tled for sec­ond by the fin­ish, al­though it was a closerun af­fair with Bell, him clos­ing on me to just 0.293s at the flag, with ninth fastest time.

I got an­other good start in Q3 from the mid­dle of the ran­domly al­lo­cated grids, and tried to pass fel­low Mini driver Terry Dur­din on the in­side into turn one, but he had the move cov­ered. Wait­ing un­til the loose sec­tion, I got bet­ter trac­tion thanks to a wider line out of the chi­cane and pulled along­side Dur­din, only to have the wind­screen to­tally filled with mud. I’d al­most for­got­ten what the ex­pe­ri­ence of fol­low­ing a car on the loose was like where, for over 80 per cent of the time, vis­i­bil­ity is zero. The wipers were good on the Mini, so at least once ev­ery cou­ple sec­onds I could see for a mo­ment, be­fore the screen got filled in again and it would go dark, com­pounded by the harsh noise of the dirt and stones thrash­ing the front and un­der­side of the car. I re­mained sec­ond to the fin­ish, de­fend­ing again from Bell to set fourth quick­est time and qual­ify seventh over­all, di­rectly into to A fi­nal (much to my sur­prise). Sadly, that’s re­ally as far as my event would go, hav­ing not made a great start in the A fi­nal, I tried a pass on the in­side of a rear-wheel-drive Volvo Tour­ing­car in the first cor­ner and hit a tyre stack. That was the least of my wor­ries as by the end of the lap the car lost power with an elec­tri­cal prob­lem, a rare tech­ni­cal is­sue on cars that are usu­ally ul­tra-re­li­able.

Al­though dis­ap­pointed with the fi­nal re­sult, by qual­i­fy­ing for the A fi­nal I did fin­ish sec­ond in the BMW Mini class to Bell, and even col­lected a tro­phy for my ef­forts.

My Mini ex­pe­ri­ence at Croft was fan­tas­tic, the car has plenty of power to be fun and once you un­der­stand when it will send you side­ways, it was very con­trol­lable in al­most ev­ery sit­u­a­tion you find your­self in.

And, I’m pleased to say that both David and my­self em­bar­rassed some rather more ex­pen­sive ma­chin­ery in the Su­per­mod­i­fied di­vi­sion. Pound for pound, the Mini cat­e­gory is great value for money. I must say a huge thank you to Martin Hawkes for the use of his great car, and Tony Bell for his help­ful ad­vice.

The only prob­lem is that Croft only whet­ted my ap­petite for more… ■

The Cooper S was great to han­dle the mud is a chal­lenge due to Fol­low­ing on loose sur­faces Ridge (l) col­lected a tro­phy at Croft Su­per­charged en­gine is great

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