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The Mini Specialists: Official Blog
Official Blog

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Mini Grand 24 Hour Race

You may remember previously on the Mini Sport blog, a mention of a 24 hour endurance race for Minis. This is a relatively new event and is currently incorporated with the 2CV 24 hour race that takes place annually as the showcase event of the 2CV Racing Calendar.

24hr-3The aims of both the 2CV & Mini racing fraternities seem to run along parallel lines trying to promote a family friendly environment in which keen competition can flourish so the hope was that the combination of a Mini class within the famous 2CV 24 hour Enduro will strengthen both sets of enthusiastic members.

In 2012 they both finally got together at Oulton park with a Mini Grand & a 2CV to see who they would compare. Chris Slade 2011 Champion of the Mighty Minis & Sammie Fritchley 2011 2CV Champion drove the respective cars and were lapping consistently within 1 second of each other so all looked set for a great event.

24hr-2So with Minis now featuring for a third year, it took place at Anglesey race circuit and we have an update from Paul Moseley, father of Tom who was part of Team Misfit. The team, comprised of Might Mini drivers, did very well:

Neil Fearnley built the Team Misfit Mini Grand 24 car to take part in the 24 hour endurance race and joined in the event with 2 other Grand Mini cars and 27 other competitors.

 

24hr-1Although the 998 engines are slightly quicker than the 2cv they use more fuel in race setup and this the minis have to run shorter and have more stops loosing time back.

Plenty of fun technical issues lost the team plenty of time during the day and night sessions however they tought back with some great driving from all the team members to finish 21st overall and 2nd in class.

Team Misfit

Neil Fearnley, Thomas Moseley, Ade Tuckley, Nick and James Lyford.

 

You can find more information about the 24 hour enduro race here at the 2CV Website or on the Mini Grand 24 website

Posted in: Mini Sport News, Mini Sport Racing
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Mini Seven Race Report – Donnington Park

Here is the latest Mini Seven report from Leon Wightman:

Still on a metaphorical high after my first podium and fastest lap at Oulton Park, Donnington and rounds 11 and 12 of the Mini Se7en Challenge couldn’t come quickly enough.

mini7-doningtonDonnington Park is nestled firmly on the Leicestershire-Derbyshire border, and is my personnel favourite. It features gradient, off camber corners, blind apex and entries, and flows like very few race circuits. Indeed being a purpose built race track, it is something of a rarity in the UK. If the truth be known, I had been waiting for this race all year…

Qualifying was the normal struggle for me, with the exception of Brands Hatch, it isn’t my strongest element of a race weekend. But out of 22 entries I managed a respectable 9th and 8th for the two races over the weekend.

The first race was a typical English weather conundrum as 30 minutes before the start we had a light summer shower! Just enough to question which tyres would be the best to use, but not enough to warrant wets, so a dry race it was.

I didn’t get a great start, something I have been plagued with this year, but managed to make the first few corners running in 10 position . With some typical close mini racing and some new found confidence after Oulton, I was up to 6th by the end of the first lap. Another position taken and I was challenging for 5th. Crossing the line at the end of lap 2 I had taken 4th and was closing on 3rd. Some close racing and changing of positions saw me drop to 5th again but still in contention for 3rd, but there’s never enough laps in a mini race! So on lap 9, retaking 4th position was a fair result for the first race. A quick trip to the clerk of the course to review video footage after being questioned about overtaking under a yellow flag (something that you can not do) however it proved I had taken the position legitimately, so a great result considering championship positions are extremely tight.

mini7-donington2Starting 8th for the second race gave me a small jump up the grid but placed me on the outside of the track for the first corner. A good start however saw me maintain position, and with a non starter giving me an extra position I was now running 7th.

On lap 2, at the old hairpin mayhem ensued, as the front 4 cars tripped over each other and left the track. I just put my foot to the floor and drove my way up to 2nd!

Good luck? Well earned? Well deserved? Who can say, but I was enjoying every second!

Within a lap the front running cars had caught up and I had dropped to 4th, but I was staying with the lead group and driving well as my confidence was high. The lead changed hands several times, as did my 4th position and 3rd , as we all tried our best to make headway and claim the spoils . On lap 9 the 3rd placed car dropped out which gifted me the position, and we were all running within one second of each other. A scary moment at the old hairpin almost saw me leave the track, but I lost no time or track position as the lead 2 cars were squabbling amongst themselves. Sitting behind the front 2 cars has it’s benefits as you can see where they are losing speed, time, and you have time to assess. That may sound perverse as we are sat in a race car but ironically enough it’s true. When you have become used to race speed you can find time to think about what’s going on around you. I had a feeling that the 2 cars in front would be very defensive into the last corner (Roberts chicane). One would defend and one would attack.

As both cars went very deep into the first part of the chicane I was able to take the conventional line and planted the throttle to the floor. This gave me a great run out of the corner and I slung shot past 2nd pace to claim it for my own. A great result with a well driven race. What was really satisfying was not only equalling my best result, but knowing that my race craft was starting to develop, and I had driven at the front of the race with seasoned campaigners.

It just goes to show hard work and effort do eventually pay off.
Many thanks to Mini Sport yet again for their efforts and support for another great weekend of racing, which now see me lying in 4th with 2 races to go in the series.

Images courtesy of Matthew Barrington Photography

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Paddy Hopkirk will be attending the Rally Drivers Ball

The Rally Drivers Charity Ball will be held at the Dunkenhalgh Hotel, Accrington, Lancashire from 6.30pm on the 6th September and will include a motor show during the day, a charity bike ride and a fantastic line-up of live entertainment including an auction and rallying VIPs during the night at the Dunkenhalgh.

ball-papaer-2All funds raised at the event will go towards improving the living quality of former professional Rally Co-Driver Chris Wood. Chris has previously sat alongside Jimmy and Alister McRae, Martin Rowe, Jonny Milner, David Higgins and his great friend, the late World Rally Champion, Richard Burns, however, after a minor fall, Chris damaged two vertebrae at the top of his spinal cord which rendered him tetraplegic, with little or no movement below the neck.

Chris is desperate to regain full arm movement and this may be possible using Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) equipment. FES is the most up to date and effective rehabilitation technique and may help his aim of being able to lead a more independent life. He also needs an electric wheelchair, hoists and other items. It is difficult to put a finite price on all of this but around £30,000-£40,000 is the figure being aimed for

You can get involved and help to do your bit for a worthy cause by donating a prize to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

All sorts of prizes are welcome – we want to make sure absolutely every guest at the ball finds something they are desperate to bid on so we can all be involved in the fun and raise loads of money for charity, so no matter what you have in mind we’re sure it will make a fantastic auction prize!

Tickets are £55 plus VAT, with a minimum of two tickets that will be allocated on to tables of ten. Individual tables can be arranged from groups of 8-12. The hotel prices starting at £55 for a single or £75 for twin or double. Family rooms, inclusive breakfast and pamper packages including spa treatment deals are all available.

If you would like to buy tickets please contact Kevin Furber directly on 07850 732867 or email kevin@scottdawson.co.uk

Paddy-Hopkirk-Scan-fixed

Paddy Hopkirk will be attending the event along with Mini Sport, whilst also leading the afternoons Cavalcade of over 100 Rally Cars through Accrington.

Further information about the Ball, Celebrity Guests, Motor Show, Bike Ride, Venue and Table Plan etc is available on their website rallydriversball.co.uk

You will also find a donation page here

Posted in: Charity, Mini Sport News
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Entwistle tightens his grip on HRCR Championship

STEVE Entwistle has tightened his grip on the HRCR Clubmans Championship after another giantkilling performance.

EntiEntwistle and navigator Bob Hargreaves outshone their higher powered rivals to claim a brilliant class win and third overall on the St Wilfrid’s Classic Rally. And the pair, who were in the ex-Roy Mapple Orangebox Mini, were only beaten by a pair of 2-litre Ford Escorts. It was one of those days when everything clicked, we didn’t make many mistakes and luck went our way,” said Entwistle.

Full credit to Bob, who was a star on the maps. The six regularities were very difficult for everyone, but Bob got it spot-on all day.”

The duo didn’t get off to the best of starts, lying 12th after the first two tests and regularity. But a storming run on three tests, which used an auto grass circuit near York, soon pulled them up the leaderboard. They then survived a lucky escape after flooding on the route.

It was unbelievable,” added Entwistle. There was a trough of cement water a foot deep and 70 foot long. The water was over the bonnet of Orangebox, and six inches deep in the footwell, then the engine cut-out.

At that point Bob was refusing to get out of the car and push, and I thought we’d had it.

Amazingly, a turn of the key and the engine started again, and we struggled out on three cylinders.”

Entwistle now has a 37 point lead in the series, with three rounds left. The next round is the Vale of Clywd, based in Mold, on September 6th.

 

Written by Neil Johnson – Lancashire Telegraph

Posted in: Mini Sport News, Mini Sport Racing
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Mini Seven Race Report – Oulton Park

After some solid results at Thruxton 3 weeks before , Oulton Park and it’s inaugural Mini Festival was eagerly anticipated , even if the whole event, taking place on one day, was generally perceived as a hectic schedule.

Some maintenance work was carried out between rounds, namely new Pistons and Seals in the front Brake Calipers, plus new Mini Sport Superfins and Shoes to the rear.

Having arrived and prepped the night before it certainly took the strain away from the tight timetable, which was probably just as well…
Qualifying started well , and having driven this circuit before , albeit in the shorter version with a sick clutch, the corners soon came back to me from memory. BUT after one lap the clutch started to slip , a little unusual to suddenly happen… and nothing more in the way of problems for two more laps as the problem disappeared only to be replaced by a clutch pedal issue, which meant less and less travel and feel . By lap 4 I had lost the clutch altogether and decided all I could do was park up. So I limped around the back half of the track in 4 th gear to the pit lane . I was a bit miffed to have the problem , but to be held in the pits and not allowed to make my way to the paddock was even more frustrating , especially in full kit in 30 degree + cockpit temperature!

All things considered I should have been pleased with qualifying 9th for both races and having completed 4 laps, I didn’t need to start at the back of the grid.

The clutch housing was removed , slave cylinder line bled through, release bearing and arm checked, then all reassembled . The only problem we could find was a loose locknut on the free play adjuster assembly, all the problems looked to have been caused by the clutch adjuster winding itself in! Simple fix but so annoying.

oulton-mini7-2So for the first race , starting 9th and on the inside row was not such a bad thing. A reasonably average start saw me drop to 10th , only to regain 9th midway through the first corner and I was pushing on. By the third corner I was taking another spot and gaining on 7th. Another lap in and I was sixth and inherited 5th through a retirement in front. I was finding the car flowing nicely and my confidence was soon returning, realising what the car is capable of. I was rapidly hauling in 4th spot but running out of laps, but isn’t that the story of any race, never enough laps!
5th was a good solid finish again and more vital points in the bag .

The second race soon came around, having only a 3 hour gap between the races.
The usual nut and bolt checks, re-fuel, tyre pressure checks etc were completed in no time at all and I even had time for lunch which is something I never normally do!

oulton-mini7I managed a slightly better start this time but still lost a place, and recovered it by the end of the first corner. I kept pushing ….. Another place by the third corner and another within 50 yards, something felt great, maybe the penny has dropped!
I was pushing hard now as around the back section of Oulton I was visibly so much quicker and taking huge chunks of time out of the cars in front. Within another 2 laps I was upto 3rd , my highest running position to date. I could see a gap opening up behind me and I was starting to catch 2nd place. 2 more laps and I was overtaking the current Mini 7 champion and claiming 2nd place as my own. I couldn’t believe what was happening, but had to stay focused.

The car felt superb, I felt superb and was pushing all the while, another lap and who knows what could have happend. BUT I was overjoyed with a 2 nd place finish, my highest ever result and first podium.

The champagne tasted so sweet after all the efforts of so many and to finally step into the platform was a fantastic feeling, even more so when starting. 9th on the grid. I even got a mention in Autosport.
A few people need some thankyou’s at this point …

Selby race engines for a great product in “old faithfull” my spare engine!
All the team members in A L Motorsport for your help and precious time spared
And of course to my sponsors for all your support, knowledge and dedication that help someone like me progress and improve:

City Plumbing Supplies
C G Clutch
Emtome
And of course , my main sponsors Mini Sport!

 

Images courtesy of Matthew Barrington Photography

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Pikes Peak 2014 – Race Report

pikespeak

Mini Sport are proud to say that we are supporting Jon Edwards-Parton at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb this year. John is one of only two driver taking part from the UK and has written this race report for us:

After the trials and tribulations of getting to this point the Race Day dawns bright and sunny with no rain forecast. (But on the Mountain normal weather patterns rarely apply so its still fingers crossed time.)

At 8.30 it’s off up the mountain to meet up with the Crew and the Mini in the Paddock area set up by the Start Line. The pit activity certainly provides a real sense of atmosphere and a tingle down the spine hearing those race cars with open exhausts alongside the shriek of the Motor Bike engines as they are unloaded and warmed up. The Mini is parked up and all ready to go.

The team has set up camp in a delightfully shady area as the temperature is already moving up to 28 Degrees C. With cold drinks and snacks on hand here we can relax, chat with other teams and get ready for the race in relative comfort. The camp proved to be a very attractive place to many of the folk we had met both this year and last year. Nothing to do now but sit under the trees chatting to other drivers and crew, telling jokes and racing tales and trying to stay calm!

My start time gets later and later as a result of both cars and bikes crashing out on the mountain and having to be moved out of harms way. As the sun continues to shine the temperature soars and is already 30 Degrees C.

2.30pm and finally the Crew start to make a move to get me in line for the Green Flag. The Mini is being warmed up so race suit and helmet on and focus on the job in hand. Into the car, belts on, oxygen on (after last years start line panic with the oxygen all goes well this time) and good to go. Then with 2 minutes to go the red flag gremlins strike again!!! The course is closed as the Competitor before me has gone off the road.

pikespeak2Drivers are not allowed to leave the car once it is at the start so I sit there in the increasingly hot car (the temperature that afternoon hit 38 degrees C) in full race gear for nearly 30 minutes. The crew were giving me cold water through a straw as I had my balaclava on desperately trying and trying to keep me in the shade as much as possible. Last year the mountain threw a thunderstorm at me. While I was at the flag and on slicks and this year its trying to bake me – perhaps by next year it will be a plague of locusts!

The red flag finally comes down and I am under starters orders. The green flag is waved and I am off. My goal for this year is to do a sub 13 minutes. The Mini is flying up the Mountain – the Minisport close ratio box, the suspension mods and all the hours recceing and testing on the mountain are coming together now. The overheating of brain and body forgotten!!

For safety reasons the number of spectators on the Mountain for this years has been reduced and they have been restricted to certain areas but there still seems to be thousands at the side of road.

I push the Mini as hard as it will go through 156 bends to the 14.100ft summit pulling 6th gear on occasion (some 110 mph) but only managed 13mins 10secs. However car and driver are still in one piece (the Mountain was littered with cars either off the road or broken) I am followed by my Texan Team mate in his 500bhp Radical who only beats me by 40 seconds so maybe my time isn’t so bad and is 45 seconds faster than last year.

pikespeak3Lost of High Fives at the top and congratulations all round to the finishers.

However the jubilation is overshadowed this year however by news of the death of a Motor Cycle Competitor following a crash right on the Finish line earlier in the day.

I am whisked off for a Radio Interview with a local station (second one this week.) This feels a bit surreal at 14,000 feet. They are keen to understand why an English driver has traveled so far to do their local event!!

The next big event is the Victory parade down the Mountain. Applause and congratulations from the thousands of spectators lining the route. The Mini is now flying the Union Jack and attracts its usual ecstatic welcome from the fans. I think they can relate far more to the Mini and its 3 wheeling antics than some of the real exotica among the Competitors.

Back in the paddock its Champagne all round for Team and Drivers. A class win for the Radical adds an additional reason to drink the Champagne this year. Do we need an excuse??

Roll on 2015 – I clearly have to keep trying for that sub 13 minutes!!!!

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Crail Rally – A Baptism of Fire for a new Mini Sport Co-Driver

Aged just 14 years and a day old, I was about to co-drive for my Dad, Martin Page, in my very first rally…. In one of the MINI Cooper S Rally Cars of the Mini Sport Rally Team.

P1090870I think that broke the record for the youngest ever co-driver; could you have been any younger? Unfortunately, Crail in June didn’t really have the “Mull Rally factor” that I was used to. I went to my very first Mull Rally seven years ago and fell in love with rallying: I have been growing up with it and I haven’t missed a Mull yet – Even if that does mean convincing your parents to let you skip school!

In those seven years though, I never really got involved much with inside the car. Iv’e ‘navigated’ Dad to the Mull noise test and to scrutineering, and even over the start ramp when he was driving the Course Car but thats it.

crail cWhen I was younger I would always stand in the shadows, in my red team overalls and be called “Chief Mechanic” although in actual fact, all that involved was walking around the service area, sponge in hand to clean windows and spotlamps!  Spectating was always a blast though – especially when you could hear the rally cars distant coughs and splutters from miles away!

From my parents for my birthday, I was given my last name in big stick-on letters – no literally! It was to display alongside my dad’s name on the rally car as co-driver! I just stared at them, shell shocked, completely unable to speak.  Wow!

We drove that evening to Crail near St Andrews, about 2 hours away from our house in Aberdeenshire and went through the usual scruteneering and signing on but this time it was slightly different. I was no longer in the shadows but in fact in the driver’s seat; well next to it actually!

crail dI was very lucky to have a great mentor, Martin Cressey who co-drives for his own Dad in one of the other Mini Sport rally MINIs. He came along to coach me on all the do’s and dont’s of being a co-driver – having previously sat with my dad before. I couldn’t have done it without him; answering my endless list of questions and I really appreciated him burning himself whilst fixing ‘my’ exhaust which Dad had managed to detach mid stage!

On Saturday morning I was ready to rally! – Yup, I was still fast asleep in my bed – so much for co-driving organisation. Having shoved some breakfast down me, I was finally ready for my debut rally.   Kitted out in Daniel Barritt, Fords very own, World Rally Championship co-drivers’ overalls that he very kindly gifted to me, I was finally sat in the seat. I went through my final checklist: Helmet, check! Harness, check! Time cards, check! Notes, check! Pen, check! Extra pen in case I lose that one, check! I was all set. My cement mixer stomach was churning faster and faster as panic swelled up inside me. I was finally doing my first ever rally and I didn’t want to mess it up. My dad kept reassuring me of how it was just a “taster” but unfortunately for him, this made me feel ten times worse!

photo 4After the first few corners, I had found my flow and was gaining more confidence as I read more and more of the notes in front of me. Once that stage had finished, I remember saying to dad, “Your nae bad for an auld man!” Of course, as he always does, he just gave me his little chuckle as we proceeded back to service.

Everything was going fine until on the 6th stage, when we were going around an “Open hairpin” but in actual fact it was pretty tight. I was clinging on to the edge of my seat praying we wouldn’t roll! At this point the car was on two wheels – fun times!

Unusually for dad, he was also multi tasking and was giving me running commentary as well as driving “flat out”. “You see that guy there”, he said to me as we caught the car in front, “He’s going to lose it because we’re putting him under pressure…… right about now!” And sure enough, he span right in front of us, thankfully we swerved just before we T-boned him! It isn’t a rally if there’s no drama!

crail eAfter a very eventful and successful couple of days at Crail,  dad and I finished 26th overall having started at 47 from a 90 car entry. To round off a fantastic weekend, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the legendary, Motor-sport journalist John Fife aka – Jaggy Bunnet. As a new member of the Stonehaven and District Motor club, weighing six and a half stone, wet through I am now looking for more co-driving experience.

Thank you to all the messages of support throughout the day and to everyone who helped make it possible. It was a long awaited dream come true.

Finally, I really like being part of Uncle Daniel Harpers’ Minisport Rally Team…”cough cough”…..move over Chris Campbell, there’s a new Daniel Barritt in town – I have the overalls to prove it!

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Mini Seven Race Report – Thruxton

The fastest track on the calender is Thruxton near Andover, a circuit that is known for close racing and as far as Minis are concerned, a fantastic spectacle for the fans. So rounds 7 & 8 were eagerly anticipated.

Having had only 2 weeks break between rounds, and a disastrous time at Cadwell, I was very keen to move forward with the racing and get my season back on track. The old faithful engine was ” recommissioned ” whilst the new engine is being repaired, and with plenty of time spare the car was ready for racing.

Despite the torrential rain and spectacular storms that surounded us on the friday night, we awoke to a dry track with a sunny outlook, which made tyre choice easy for qualification.

The session went well, and I soon found myself settling into the flowing corners and high speed sections that make up the majority of the circuit. With 9 laps under my belt in the alotted time I was pleased to find myself in 6th position for both races. From there it was realistic to stay with or be part of the lead pack.

Racing is very different from practice though, and I made a terrible start in race 1, which saw me swallowed up by several cars before the first complex. By the end of the lap I was down to ninth and struggling . I couldnt pin point where I was going wrong, but backwards was an easy way to described my progress. I am fortunate though, to have a very reliable package , and this is thanks to good prep and quality parts and service from Mini Sport . So when 3 other cars fell by the wayside , I was able to pick up some places. Due to an accident which saw a car in the barriers , we were to finish the race behind a safety car , eventually coming home 6th overall.

After some tweaks to the engine mapping by Selby race engines, alteration to brake setup and a good hard look at in-car footage, I felt confident of some progression for race 2. Yet another bad start though, saw me drop back again to 8th, then another car slowed and pulled off, moving me to 7th . A nasty 3rd lap crash brought out the red flags (thankfully the driver involved was ok) and a restart was required.

I still couldnt get the start nailed (something to work on) but I did at least manage to hold position. For 2 laps I made little progress, but suddenly found that something had clicked, and I was making ground on 6th and 5th position. When one car lost its engine, it suddenly closed the gap even more. I may not have been near he lead pack, but another position was there to be taken.

Now Thruxton is not as you might expect, all about being quick, its a thinking mans track, and you don’t want to be in front on the last lap. So as we started the final tour I was quite happy to relinquish 5th in preparation for the long haul back. When you get “the tow” here, in a car thats as aerodynamic as a brick, you really do have a huge slip streaming advantage. I started to get the effect of this way too early and had to feather the throttle for half the lap so as not to play my hand too soon. Once past Church corner, I buried the throttle and waited, pleased to hear that extra 500 RPM kicking in and easing past the car in front back up to 5th . A defensive line through the last corner saw me maintain position and come home in 5th , equaling my best finish result, so I was very pleased to say the least .

I am now running 6th in the championship, so roll on Oulton Park for rounds 9 & 10.

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Mini Seven Race Report – Cadwell Park

So it’s rounds 5 & 6 of the Mini Se7en Challenge with MiniSport, and we are off to beautiful Cadwell Park.

Having never driven here I was really looking forward to this round, with great scenery and challenging twists and turns, it’s a track more well known for motor bikes than cars.
Things weren’t going to plan, the new engine was finally finished and had a dyno run at midnight on the Thursday before. So in order to get the car ready I had to sacrifice the testing I had booked on the Friday to fit the new power plant.

But we arrived late Friday afternoon and had a free 15 minute practice, which is unusual for a race day.
I took things extremely steadily to become familiar with the track, and after 3 laps began to push on and find the limits with the track.
BUT disaster struck on the approach to Park Corner, as within seconds I lost all oil pressure and smoke began to billow from the car, all I could do was park up and pray for some good fortune.

Back at the pits it became very apparent that I wasn’t racing this weekend, as an oil line became detached from its JIC fitting, in possibly the worst place possible, on the line out of the engine block. I was absolutely gutted , the car had looked great, the engine was very promising and my confidence was high after Brands Hatch , but now all I could do was take myself off to reflect on what went wrong.

I’ve split the engine now, and had I not turned it off when I did it would have been a very expensive pile of scrap, as it is it’s looking like some light machine work will revive the motor to its former glory.

A huge thankyou now to all who helped on the day, all the Mini fans who came and enquired what had happened and offered their support, and to Mini Sport for shipping out some required parts for the spare engine the next day. It means I am able to race at Thruxton in 2 weeks time , I can’t wait to put Cadwell behind me…

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Paddy Hopkirk Gala raises mega Charity Money!

handovergala-logoThe Integrated Education Fund (IEF) and SKIDZ charities will share £55,000 following the Hopkirk Gala event that brought international motorsporting personalities and 200 Minis to Belfast in February.

The event, the brainchild of Dr. Beatty Crawford a former international co-driver, was instigated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Paddy Hopkirk’s victory in a Mini Cooper S on the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally. “I am delighted that this event has raised such considerable funds for these two very worthwhile charities. It has justified all time and the support that we received from the sponsors and supporters who became involved and for the two years that our committee spent in pre-planning the big day,” said Dr. Crawford at cheque handover.

On the morning of the 22nd February 2014 Paddy Hopkirk led the John Mulholland Motors cavalcade of 200 Minis from Stormont via the City Hall, (where they were received by the Lord Mayor), before moving on to the Titanic Slipway.

That afternoon the public were entertained by the spectacular Northern Ireland Plastics Autotest and the day climaxed when Paddy Hopkirk welcomed over 540 guests to the Gala Dinner in Titanic Belfast.

The guests included the former World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen, the five times British Rally Champion Jimmy McRae, and the five times Grand Prix winner John Watson and a host of other rallying personalities.

Under the theme ‘Made in Belfast’ Phil Coulter, Margaret Keys, Olivia Nash, and the Bright Lights Dancers provided the evening entertainment and a specially commissioned Art Mini was sold by Wilson’s Auctions which raised an amazing £17,000 for the charities.

On the 27th May Terence Donnelly, on behalf of the Hopkirk Gala Committee, whose company the Donnelly Motor Group donated the Mini that Niall Shawcross transformed into a unique work of art, handed over the cheque in Paddy Hopkirk’s presence.

Speaking in Donnelly’s showroom in Boucher Road Belfast, Paddy Hopkirk said.

“I am deeply grateful to the organisers of the Gala which was a memorable and remarkable occasion and has raised substantial funds for two charities which are so close to my heart, The Integrated Education Fund and SKIDZ.” “Both these fantastic charities do so much to enhance and improve the lives of young people. When I set out on my career in motorsport little did I think that my professional work would end up putting something back into helping young people today. I would like to thank everyone who supported my Gala and those who gave so generously to two very worthy causes.” “I’m also delighted that SKIDZ intends to use their donation to help finance the launch of a operation in Belfast and I hope that local businesses, schools and colleges will support this initiative which has proved so successful in England.”

 

THE CHARITIES:

ief-logoIEF

The Integrated Education Fund is the independent charity which supports parents in Northern Ireland who wish their children to attend integrated schools where they learn together, on a daily basis, in an environment which celebrates traditional and cultural diversity. Currently there are 62 integrated schools comprising of around 22,000 children. ‘

skidz-logoSKIDZ

SKIDZ provides motor vehicle study courses for young people (13 –19+ years), helping the especially disadvantaged and those at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). SKIDZ students have gone on to obtain apprenticeships and carve out careers in the motor industry.

Based in Buckinghamshire, SKIDZ now plans to launch its programmes nationwide through forging partnerships with schools, colleges, businesses and like-minded organisations. Belfast will be the first step on its national roll out scheme.

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