As you all know I race in the Super mighty Mini Class and have done so since last season, and with the new engine rules in 2012 I was very much looking forward to a competitive season of racing, with my brand new car and engines however, unfortunately for me, the Gods had other ideas!
I tested the car at Snetterton the week before Oulton park and within 20 laps my new engine had detonated its pistons, so I was forced to fit my old engine from 2011 which was still as I had raced it in my old Mini Sport 4 car. I did all the late nights work and had the car ready for round one of the Championship only for the engine to do the same thing as the new engine and eat up its piston. So a DNF for us at Oulton park, not good for me or my loyal sponsors Mini Sport and new for 2012 Bailey Caravans. I had to make a decision and fast so I took the 2 blown up engines to Scholar engines Ipswich to see if they could do me one good one out of the 2. They did there best and 2 days before round 2 at Donington we fitted the new red Scholar engine into the car.
In qualifying I set off after the pack to get a good slip stream only to find that all the rest of the cars on the grid were pulling away from me like I had the hand brake on! I was second last on the grid and now a very grumpy old man, no money left in my sponsorship fund and worse than that a slower car than ever.
In the race it rained for a few laps and I got up to 5th place but my luck did not hold out and the rest of the cars just drove past me down the straights. I finished 9th, I was now very low and embarrassed with mine and the cars performance, I knew it was the car but to the outside World I looked like I was over the hill and washed up and thats why you have seen no reports from me this season as I was too embarrassed to write any reports!
I took the car straight from Donnington back to scholars rolling road to find I had only 72bhp so you can see why I was stuffed when you consider that Elliot Stafford, who useses the same rolling road has 95 bhp. With no more money in the kitty to strip and build a 4th engine I had a very tough discussion to make and missed the next round at Cadwell park to convert the car down to a standard class Mighty Mini.
I thought long and hard whether I should do this but as I had no money left it was my best option to sell off all the Super engines and bits which would give me a good budget to buy a brand new Paul Inch Mighty Mini engine (the one to have in 2012) and all new suspension and class so as to make the car comply with the Mighty rules.
I did do this and it was a lot of hard work even though I had help from my 2012 team mate Justin Cooper who has my old Mini Sport Mini (as seen above) and now races in the standard Mighty Mini class with me. What we have done now makes perfect sense as I am able to help Justin with his driving and have a lovely car that requires much less maintenance in the garage.
The New Beginning
We had the new engine sent from Paul Inch with instructions that the car must go to Neil Slarks rolling road, a very long way from home but if I was to be bang on the pace straight out of the box this is what I had to do. By now Justin had blown up his old engine at Cadwell so had had a new one built by Paul Inch as well so we both set of to Slarks.
Neil is like his Dad Bryan Slark, a great bloke who knows his stuff and is possibly one of the best SPi engine tuners in the UK as they are very difficult engine to get the best from. He tuned my engine and Justins to be bang on the pace before giving us both a good set up as we have both never done Mightys before and like the engines, the cars are a bit tricky to get spot on. We then left Neil Slarks and headed to Castle Combe like 2 kids with new toys to try. As soon as we got there Justin did a deal with the track to let us out into the afternoon to test for £50 which is a bargain. I showed Justin the lines for a few laps then gave mine the full monty. She felt good but without one of the top drivers to compare with I would have to wait a few more days to be sure.
By the bank holiday Jubilee monday I was gagging to go out in the car against the record 32 Mightys that had turned up and in qualify the main guys to beat, 2011 Champion Chris Slade and Ade Tuckley would not let me draft with them so I got 4th on the grid but I knew I could race better.
In the first race I made a good start and lead into Tower on the first lap. I had a great race with Chris Slade who gave me a big push into one of the corners but it was good hard clean racing, something I enjoy. I was very lucky and won first time out, so I feel my decision is justified and now I am looking forward to the rest of the season more than I have for many years.
In the second race I was on pole and again made a good start but this time it was not Chris but Emmerdale Actor Kelvin Fletcher and new driver Marcusson who gave me the most hassle. We had a safety car period after a big shunt at Camp corner and I have to say that I got the re-start perfect and pulled a gap, then due to the other 2 racing each other I pulled away to a 9.5 second win.
I am very happy with my new Mighty Mini and am so grateful to my Sponsors Mini Sport, Bailey Caravans, Maxview, Thetford, Whale pumps, Powertouch, Fortis watches and Greentrees as they have as always stood by my disission to drop a class and backed me more than I deserve. The next race is at Rockingham, a track I love.
Justin Cooper had his best ever weekend with a 17th and 15th place Finish. He is getting better by the race in his Mini Sport 4 car.
Remember if any Mini Sport customer ever wants to come and say hello at any of the races don’t be afraid to come over!
Mini Sport Car 9