Round 5 of the year was at sunny Brands Hatch for the MINI Festival, a brilliant weekend that hosts a variety of different MINI racing. Steeped in rich British Motorsport history, Brands is a fantastic circuit to drive and Max was very up for the challenge! Here’s what he said about a somewhat dramatic weekend of racing in Kent:
Brands is a circuit I love to drive, especially coming off the back of a victory at Silverstone GP the meeting beforehand. However, this meeting seemed to be my hardest of the year so far, with multiple issues across the weekend. Going into qualifying on the Saturday, I felt the car was capable of a front row start but this sadly wasn’t the case. A few issues had occurred during the session and getting stuck in traffic when I really needed to put a solid lap in didn’t help my case at all. The session ended with me qualifying in 15th position, the worst starting place I’ve had all year. Previously, my worst qualifying position had been fifth.
Race 1 was always going to be difficult having qualified 15th and then having a 2 place grid penalty on top of that, bringing me down to starting 17th on the grid! Throughout the race, I made up places and finished in 12th position, but it was obvious after the race that we had a speed deficit on the other cars on the circuit.
For Race 2, we changed the turbo pressure valve. Starting 12th on the grid, I managed to get into 7th in the first few laps. Having resolved the power deficit caused by a loss of boost in the turbo, the car was feeling strong and the most competitive it had felt across the weekend. Unfortunately, motor sport can be pretty cruel at times and on the fourth lap when pulling out of the third corner, the driveshaft went on the car, forcing me to retire from the race. Really disappointing, but these things do happen. It’s definitely more frustrating though when it isn’t a driver induced failure.
Due to the DNF (did not finish) in Race 2, I had to start the race from 27th on the grid, which is particularly horrible at Brands as overtaking is not a simple task at this circuit! That said, I was still quite excited as it was going to be a race where I’d really have to fight through the grid to try and salvage some much needed championship points. Amazingly, I bought the car home in a solid 11th position after a hard race battling with everyone to get there.
Looking back over the weekend, it was a very difficult and frustrating couple of days, with results we didn’t really deserve. That’s the way motor sport goes sometimes though and it only makes you work harder for the next meeting. We’re actually at Brands Hatch again for the following race meeting so hopefully it will go better next time!