Mini Se7en Rounds 4+5 – Silverstone
Here is last weekends Race Report from the AL Motorsport Team:
It was rounds 4 & 5 of the Mini Sport Mini Se7en Championship at not only the “Home of British Motor Sport”, but the relative home of AL Motorsport. After a boiling hot week it looked set to be a sweaty time for both drivers but – as always – the British weather had other ideas…as the weekend loomed, the weather got progressively cooler as the wind picked up – but at least the rain held off!
Teams were given a free 15 minute session first thing Saturday morning, which meant it would be a busy day with signing on, scrutineering, practice, qualifying, and round 1!
As practice started both AL Motorsport cars got up to temperature, but 2-3 laps in car #44 had clutch trouble so it was back into the pit lane to see if the team could pin-point what was wrong. The clutch seemed to be working fine in actuation, so Adam started it up to see if it was ok, but still no clutch. It was straight back to the garage, front off – and with only 2½hrs till qualifying the team stripped the clutch end off the engine in just 15 minutes – great work team! Rob Selby, from Selby Engineering, came over to help with the problem and quickly diagnosed it. After some skilful grinding by Rob and Dick Hunter all tolerances were levelled again; with the clutch back on, Adam took it back out to see if the problem had been solved…and indeed it had! A huge thank you to the long-standing members of the Mini Se7en Club for showing true camaraderie.
Leon managed a full session with no problems, gaining some valuable track time which would help with qualifying and the whole weekend.
Both cars headed out for qualifying, but it was not to be #44’s morning: it appeared to be suffering from some kind of fuel starvation…Adam then noticed he had knocked the fuel pump switch, but it was too late and the car had stalled! To top it off, the starter motor then refused to get things going again so he had to be safely removed from the track, to the pit lane and get a push start from the brownie and shortbread-filled team. Despite losing 3-4 laps all was well again, but without track time car, #44 was put on the back foot for the remainder of the session, resulting in a disappointing 12th and 13th position. On the plus side, the clutch problems had happened in practice and not qualifying, and all the hard work by team AL Motorsport managed to get #44 half way up the grid…the rest was for Adam to do in the race! Leon, in car #7, had a great run managing to tag onto the back of the faster cars, getting some handy drafts down the straight and ending up with an impressive 8th and 9th in a very competitive field!
After qualifying, Adam was struggling a little with understeer and on closer inspection, Chief Mechanic Brian spotted an anti roll bar link had pulled out! As we could not use what was on the car, the team got to work on fashioning one from some threaded bar and two female rose joints and some homemade copper sleeving…but we will not go in to that!! GREAT work from everyone…true testament to the fact that a race is not solely won on the track…
Like angry killer bees, there sat some twenty-plus buzzing Mini Se7en engines, all holding the revs for the start of round 4 at Silverstone….. As the 5 second board was withdrawn all eyes went to the red lights…. look, don’t stare… and then they were underway!
A brilliant start for both drivers: Adam in #44 picked-off Ian Deviny and Kieran McDonald, getting up inside the yellow and black car of Baker on the first corner…. Leon in #7 chased Davis and Thompson into the second corner where it all proceeded to bunch up. Leon and Adam were close astern into the Luffield complex, where Leon tried a daring outside manoeuvre on Davis…the AL Motorsport cars were now in the tow, both going over the outside curb at Copse… The train of Minis headed down to the Complex for the second time, with Adam pulling a move on Leon and now chasing the green car of Davis…..Silverstone was providing some very action-packed corners!!
With everything now settling down, Davies ran wide but Adam couldn’t capitalise on his mistake. Now both cars were starting to lose the tow from the pack in front; Leon and Adam were instead dicing with each other as the sun shone on the Northamptonshire circuit. Leon attempted an outside move on Adam at Copse, but Adam retained his line – not running wide out of mutual respect, so they can both keep on track! Adam then missed 3rd gear going up the Wellington straight, which allowed Leon to make a move into Luffield 1, but as Adam managed to JUST hold the line, McDonald nabbed them both! Adam then gets a better run out of Luffield 2 and sees he could easily take McDonald going into Copse, but he spots a yellow flag for DeSilve and aborts the move. All three drivers were now swapping places, and paintwork, as Leon tags Adam whilst taking the inside of Copse corner…not chasing the green and white of Big Mac! All three drivers remained nose-to-tail for the rest of the race.
Despite slowly losing contact with the leading pack, they had an almighty battle between themselves which had the crowd in the Silverstone Racing Club grandstand on their feet! Leon managed to pull a move on Big Mac coming onto the Wellington straight, but only for Big Mac to take it back on the entry to Luffield! All three were nose-to-tail yet again for fun at Copse corner – the final result being Leon 8th, followed by Adam in 9th… so top ten results for both drivers.
After race 1, it was found that both drivers had shocks that were not working correctly. Rob Selby took Adam’s away with him and had them calibrated over night, and then brought the machine to the track for Leon’s the next day – now that is service! Leon decided to do a major change: a new steering rack, which was brought to the track by Mini Sport Saturday evening. The whole team then worked relentlessly to get it changed and set up, ready for Race 2 on the Sunday. A HUGE thank you goes out to the team yet again…they definitely earned their scram this time!
For race 2, both drivers were lined up on the outside of the track in 9th and 13th. The skies were now blue as the grid sat waiting for the lights to change. It was a straight run into the first corner, with Leon just taking Ian Deviny heading into Copse, whilst Adam discarded Parslow on the outside. The run to the next corner was tight for both drivers: Adam stuck to the outside, choosing the long way round both Big Mac and Baker; Leon held his position over Deviny and started to close in on Thomas. A small gap was appearing between Deviny and Adam, as he fought with Baker going onto the Wellington straight. Leon continued to hold his position with Deviny, but the leading pack appeared to be gapping them. Adam then made an unusual 4th gear mistake going in to Copse, letting Baker go by. Knowing it would be important to get a tow around the Silverstone track, Adam and Baker gave hand signals to try and work together to catch Deviny and Leon. Everything was going to plan, with both drivers respecting each other and passing using the tow…until the unsuspecting Big Mac joined the fun and started to push both Adam and Baker hard! Meanwhile, Leon and Deviny seemed to be holding station and not making any inroads into the leading pack.
As Big Mac took #44 into Copse, Adam then pressured him into the next right, giving himself a free run down the Wellington straight. Yet again, Adam made a mess of the gears and let Big Mac and Baker by – frustrated by his own error, Adam was then keen to make amends by chasing hard and getting back with both cars within a single lap! Leon was still in 7th, with the S-Class car of Deviny keeping him honest. Adam’s sheer determination meant he managed to pull a small gap on Baker and Big Mac, holding onto his well deserved 9th place.
All in all, despite all the issues over the weekend, it was a great result for AL Motorsport – with special thanks to Rob Selby from Selby Engineering for all his help, Dick Hunter for his advice, Darren Thomas for the replacement starter motor, and finally to Mini Sport for bringing down all of the last minute items. Without you all mucking in we would have been watching, not racing! As for Team AL Motorsport, a big thank you goes to Jeremy – our newest member, David for his major help and support, Lewis for his fashioning of the anti-roll bar, and last but not least Nick, for his help with the steering rack and efforts throughout the weekend.