Mighty Mini Update – Silverstone
Silvertsone, what a weekend! Justin and I had done a lot of work on both our cars since Rockingham to try and get the handling of both the cars spot on for the double header at Silverstone, we took Justins’ car to Snetterton to test a few things on the suspension and made good progress with the damper settings. I drove his car for a session and I have to say my old car still feels good and I feel Justin’s Paul Inch engine is even stronger than mine! We came away from Snetterton full of hope and Justin felt he was finally beginning to get the confidence in his cars handling.
I took my car to Neil Slarks rolling road for a quick look and to see that all the power and running gear was fine before we set off to Silverstone. We took our Bailey Orion Caravan to sleep in, as well as both our eldest children for a fun weekend away racing. We arrived on the Thursday night so that Justin could test his car on the Friday as he has never seen Silverstone. We set up our new Bailey/Mini Sport Awning which we have had made. Its the biggest pop up awning you can buy and looks very impressive. We also took my BBQ with us so all the other Mini drivers could join in and have a party on the Saturday night.
On the Friday Justin was out and I was helping him and Louise Inch (who you can see enjoying the sun to the left) with their cars, providing advice on the circuit as its a track I know very well from my days in the MG Metro and many years Mini racing, in fact one year I managed the lap record on all 3 of its lay outs, so you could say its one of my favourites. At the end of the day I decided to do 3 laps in my car just to make sure she was bang on the money! This proved to be very lucky for me because she would not pull very well at all, the only thing I had done was to clean the car and charge the battery, so I had a night of investigation to try and work out what had gone wrong! It turned out that the battery on the car had a bad connection on the earth terminal and the battery was not giving the ECU the correct voltage for full speed.
This weekend our team were being followed by a film crew for a documentary on Bailey caravans being involved in Motorsport, so we were all wired with mics and had cameras in our faces all the time.
I decided that to get pole it was going to need some very good slip streams so I hung back in the assemble area so about 14 cars were in front of me going out onto the track. It worked to perfection as I did 7 laps all good enough for Pole. Paul Inch was giving me my position from the pit wall so I came in and saved the tyres, missing the last 8 mins of qualification. Justin in the 4 car had done his best ever qualifying and was in 9th place on the grid so we were very happy going into the first race.
I took up my pole position and made a good start to lead away the first lap with my main competition coming from from David Marcussen who was trying as hard as he could to end my winning streak , but I had all his moves covered and my car was the best its ever been. I managed to pull away to an easy if not boring win with Justin finishing in 10th so we were both happy with our days work and had a great BBQ at our awning for all the Mighty Mini drivers.
We made no changes to either car as we felt that they were both 100% so apart from fuel load we went out the same as the 1st round of qualifying. I did the same as the day before, hung back and picked up a few tows down the straight and it worked to perfection again as I managed a whole run of laps all good enough for pole, so I came into the pits early. Justin also had a good run and we were both ready for race 2.
The skys decided to change about 1 hour before the race and it rained so I decided we should both race on our wet tyres as it was going to be a wet race. I was to be proved very wrong!
I took up my pole position and knew then that I had made a terrible mistake as the track was bone dry. I did not make the best start as Kit Stevens had the dry side of the grid. I got away second and set off after Kit with David Marcussen on my boot, or in it! I dived up the inside of Kit at the hairpin and tried to make a break but the car was so bad in the corners that any gap I could make was taken back at the next corner. 2 laps in and we were 4 abreast down the straight with me on the inside for Luffeild then Marcusson, Stevens and Kelvin Fletcher on the outside. I braked as late as I thought you could but Marcussen, as we have all come to expect, thought he could out brake us all. He was very wrong and slew into Kit Stevens, sending them both off to the outside of the corner at speed. Marcussen in his usual don’t give a dam about anybody but himself mentality kept his foot hard on the power over the wet grass coming out and hitting Kelvin as he rejoined (as you can see in the photo), so I had the lead with, unbelievably, Marcussen (minus most of the front of his car) closing in on me.
I knew I would have to think long and hard how to beat his much faster car than mine on the wet tyres as he only took 4 laps to get right on me. He then decided to hit me into the fastest part of the circuit, as he did this I gave him a sure sign that I was not happy at all about his tactics! Lap after lap we traded places but I was struggling as my tyres were like melted rubber and the car was all over the place under braking. Luckily I had made a plan with my friend, who was watching the race at the top of the BRDC suite, to wave at me like mad on the last lap as we had no way of knowing what lap we were on as the Silverstone pit had no indication for the drivers.
As we left the Luffeild complex I looked up and could see my friend, Neil waving at me so I knew it was now or never. I drafted Marcussen up to the hairpin and made sure I made a good exit out of the corner, he was weaving like mad so I took him from one side of the track to the other knowing he could only make one big weave, he went for it and I dived up the inside of him into Luffield. He went in wide and came back at me before deciding to try and push me off the track to take the win, but I have seen most tricks and as he hit me one of 5 times I just kept the car on full power with oppressive lock. We only had the drag to the line left where he hit me once more and then pulled out of my draft. We crossed the line with me winning by 7 thousands of a second, it was a great race that for me was ruined by Marcussens stock car driving. I was fuming with him and I think the organisers had the same view as when we pulled into Parc Ferme they pulled his car up at the control tower. Later in the day I was to find out that he had been disqualified and had his licence endorsed. Hitting the others is not my style and I do not condone it in any way. I was glad the organisers had taken the issue into their own hands and sorted it out without me having to even go and see the Clerk of the Course. Justice had been done.
When I returned to the paddock my team and my fantastic sponsors Bailey Caravans gave me a standing ovation, the film crew that were following us over the weekend also said it was a fantastic race to watch!
You can view the video here