Mini 7 Championship – Donnington Park
Mini Sport have received an update of the weekends action from Mini Sport regulars, the A L Motorsport team who are competing in the Mini Se7en Championship. The second round of the Championship was a double header at Donnington Park with plenty of action!
In complete contrast to Oulton Park 1 month earlier Donnington was a circuit that the team had previously visited and the weather was to say the least going to be unpredictable .
Friday night really showed the spirit that the Mini 7 club has , with the task of building an engine for a competitor who until 5 pm that evening was unable to race . With borrowed short engine and a huge effort by many members of the club including A L Motorsport , between 9.30 and 1.00 am an engine came into existence and car 88 was back in the race! A true measure of how friendly the club is.
Saturday qualifying was full of optimism, anticipation and not without its share of problems. Even before the cars were on the track Leon (car 45) had fuses popping, a starter motor not willing to do its job and we later realised that the car didn’t have an earth strap to the engine , so a donated part saved the day!
The qualifying session was dry, and both drivers pushed the cars hard, looking to cement their status as top 10 running cars, with very little to separate them! Half way through the session though Leon started to struggle with massive under steer and loss of brakes , whilst Adam forged ahead, all be it with a very sideways car. Back at the paddock Adam was found to have a massive oil leak and Leon had a hub nut failure which meant the wheel was virtually hanging off ! At least we had 24 hours to carry out repairs . Never the less the team were very pleased with 8th for Adam and 9th for Leon.
The first race of the day was in dry conditions , and as we approached the grid it became very apparent how important qualifying is as Donnington is a big circuit with plenty of space on the track. Both drivers made good starts but Leon had a stormer breaking past cars to find himself running 8th and for the first 4 laps both cars were running with the pack line a stern. Yet again very little between both drivers, but lack of pace was starting to show and Leon dropped back to 9th. With 2 laps to go the rain started to fall and conditions went from dry to greasy and very nearly wet, but at different parts of the track. With the close racing you find in Se7ens it was always going to produce some incidents, and true to form several drivers came unstuck with the conditions which then allowed Leon to move up to and finish 7th and Adam maintaining 9th position. A great team result and further proof of the teams status as top 10 runners.
The second race of the day was a big difference, would it rain or not? 4 hours of on and off showers meant it was too unpredictable to call. Thankfully the rain came down 20 minutes before the race which meant tyre choice was very easy to call, and a wet race was declared. Yet again both drivers had good starts but another blast from 9th up to 8th for Leon meant that yet again he edged in front of Adam and was pushing hard for 7th. Whilst trying a manouvre around the outside of coppice he was edged wide which opened the door for Adam to regain 8th only then for Leon to have an inside line and better traction through mcleans to retake the position. Very close racing! And maybe a little too close as on the next lap whilst under braking into the chicane Adam snatched a gear which locked his wheels and spat him into the gravel trap and retirement. A great shame as the race was about to really unfold.
Leon was storming ahead and reveling in the wet conditions, which are a true leveler of the field. By lap 3 he was running 7th, lap 4 up to 6th where he ran comfortably for 4 laps. Urged on by the pit wall he found himself with a new confidence in the car and pushed hard chasing 5th and 4th positions who were busy squabbling amongst themselves. A good clean overtake moved Leon up to 5th and closing fast on his rival ahead with a best lap time 8/10ths faster than the 4th placed driver. With the gap closing the chequered flag fell with less than a second between them and a best ever finishing result of 5th position, a fantastic achievement by car 45 and the A L Motorsport team.
There is now only 2 Weeks to go until bank holiday Monday 7th May at Castle Combe which will be showing live on Motors TV UK