Novice cham­pion

Stephen takes to the Sil­ver­stone In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit and wins some tro­phies...

Mini Magazine - - Our Minis -

Af­ter a quick play at Cas­tle Combe for the Mini Ac­tion Day I was happy we’d im­proved the han­dling by chang­ing the front dough­nuts to stiffer red spots. Turn-in was sharp, with less ten­dency to bot­tom out the front sus­pen­sion un­der brak­ing, which was rather alarm­ing at Brands Hatch. And that would have been it for the year, if it hadn’t been for a per­sua­sive Paul Thomp­son.

The Mini 7 Rac­ing Club fi­nal rounds at Sil­ver­stone were just a week af­ter Cas­tle Combe, the car was per­form­ing well and Paul was twist­ing my arm to put in an en­try. I got the en­try in just in time. What did I write be­fore about be­ing ad­dicted to Mini Se7en rac­ing?!

Once Paul’s son Joe’s car was ready to race, we popped mine back on the cor­ner weight scales to see how the stiffer cones had played around with the bal­ance. The rear track­ing needed re­set­ting af­ter some wheel bash­ing at Brands, but oth­er­wise it was just the cor­ner weights to tinker with. The quick tinker turned into a cou­ple of hours – Minis are so sen­si­tive to ride height ad­just­ment that you can chase your tail to per­fect the bal­ance. We got there in the end, did a span­ner check and torqued ev­ery­thing back up that had worked loose in just 30 min­utes on track at Cas­tle Combe.

Al­most 60 Minis had booked in to Sil­ver­stone, and low on funds I was faced with my first laps be­ing a mixed wet qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion, in with the bal­lis­tic Mini Miglias. To make mat­ters worse, all four cham­pi­onship ti­tles were still to be de­cided. Much to my re­lief, it was deemed so wet by cir­cuit of­fi­cials that qual­i­fy­ing was can­celled and all races moved to the Sun­day, which had a sunny fore­cast.

The first race’s grid was de­cided by cham­pi­onship or­der, so I was right down in 23rd. I was com­fort­able there in my third ever cir­cuit race, made a cred­i­ble start and grad­u­ally got into the rhythm, mak­ing up places down the long Hanger Straight. By the che­quered flag I’d got up to 15th and third in S-Class – my first podium! Race two was a poor start with way too much wheel spin, so I dropped from 14th to 16th by the first cor­ner. Af­ter 20 min­utes, I’d set­tled back into the pace though, made some over­takes and ended up 12th over­all and an­other third in the S-Class. Then, due to the way the Mini Se7en Novice Cham­pi­onship points are de­cided, I man­aged to win the ti­tle by one point! What bet­ter way to hit the win­ter break of the first sea­son.

Some last-minute tin­ker­ing in the car park at work!

Over 50 Minis packed into the F1 garages for the fi­nals.

Two S-Class podi­ums rounded off a great week­end of rac­ing.

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