Steep Learning Curve at the Brands Hatch Mini Festival
The Mini Festival at Brands Hatch is one of the biggest and most exciting events on the calendar for the Mini Challenge with all four classes having three races over the two day meeting. Having been Senior Clerk for the meeting on the preceding year Andy knew all to well how challenging the Indy circuit could be… This did not put him off exploring the limits of the car in challenging conditions however.
With standing water at the top of Paddock Hill causing two red flags in Qualifying, Andy was being somewhat cautious resulting in him sitting in 9th until being told this by his engineer Richard Heeley spurred him on to leap to 6th for Race 1. This wasn’t without some over-rotation and an excursion from the track as the limits of traction were reached and exceeded.
Race 1 got underway with a drop to 7th which resulted in Andy entering in to battle with Adrian Norman, a formidable opponent who knows exactly how to make his car wide. The battle was short lived as Andy pushed his braking point deeper in to the notorious Paddock Hill Bend resulting in a tyre screeching slide through the gravel and in to the barrier bringing out the safety car and ending Andy’s race.
After the DNF in Race 1 and some overnight repairs (big thanks to Mad4MINI and Lee Pearce), The Flying Panda worked its way from the back of the grid to 8th in the Race 2 action. This could potentially have been a finish higher up the grid however Andy once again found and exceeded The Flying Panda’s limits resulting in a trip through the gravel at Clearways. Andy kept it lit this time and safely rejoined at the back of the grid leaving Andy with work to do to get back past Michael Paul in 8th.
A disqualification on technical grounds saw Andy starting Race 3 in 7th, missing out on the grid reversal by one place. What followed was some of the most exciting racing yet with close battles all the way to the end.
Andy commented; “This weekend has been painful which means I have learnt a lot about myself, the car and gravel traps. I need to focus on being consistent and staying within the limits at Croft and get back to the podium.”
Catch up with the action in the below highlights video. More footage of the weekend can be found on the AR-Motorsport Youtube channel.
The next round will be at Croft on 17th and 18th August.
Big thanks goes to Crookes Walker Consulting and Direnza as sponsors, Mad4MINI Motorsport for engineering support, Stuart McLaren for coaching support and Lee Pearce for helping with parts to get the Panda back on track.