Bladon on the blog: MINI Challenge Round 3

Max is back on our blog again this week as a guest writer. Read on to find how he and the BIZ Karts MINI fared in a seemingly dramatic weekend at Snetterton in Norfolk last weekend.

Round three of the year for the MINI JCW Championship was at Snetterton. This is a circuit that I have gone well at over the past 3 years, so confidence was running really high after a great round 2 at Rockingham the month before. Snetterton wasn't a normal weekend though, as it was the first of two triple-header meetings of the year with 3 races across the weekend. So being consistent and saving tyres was going to be really important. In reality, we needed rain to save our slick tyres.

Just before qualifying a torrential rainstorm struck down on the circuit, meaning everyone on the field to rapidly changed their tyres to wet tyres. Once I got onto the circuit though I realised these were one of the worst conditions I've ever driven in and it wasn't safe with it being near impossible to see 10 feet in front of you, I somehow managed to put a lap in though and qualified 5th out of 30 cars which I was happy with as this set me up for a good position for the three races.

For race 1, we were starting in 5th and I was keen for bagging some essential good championship points, so I wanted a minimum of 5th in the race. At the end of the first lap, I was lying in 6th so I had a little bit of work to do. Once the race settled down, I gathered two positions and took the car home in a solid 4th position.

In race 2, I was starting in 3rd due to Reece Barr having a grid penalty which he picked up from an incident in the first race. I started the race on an old set of slicks holding my new set for the third race, so it was vital I would have to be careful on the old set of tyres and just bag another solid finish. This plan was going really well by holding 4th again throughout the race until I made a little mistake on the last lap on the last corner, by locking an inside front wheel. This meant I had a poor run onto the straight and getting slightly out dragged onto the straight, losing out by two-hundredths of a second. In hindsight, finishing 5th was another solid result for the championship and my points tally.

I was starting in 2nd for the final race of the weekend, thanks to the reverse grid. We had a brand new set of slicks for the front tyres, so I was feeling confident for a great result to end the weekend on. From the 2nd race, the team and I opted to stiffen the suspension on the car to try and increase the slow speed rotation through the corners as I felt this was something the car always lacked throughout the weekend. On the start, I got into the lead and pulled a gap of around one second but I quickly realised that the change we had made to the car for race 3 was a massive mistake and made the car incredibly difficult to drive. The car was now over-steering everywhere. Unfortunately with me struggling to control the car, I lost the rear end going into the Wilson Hairpin with a half spin. This then put me down into 16th position. I eventually brought the car home in 11th position with the best possible recovery drive I could make with a difficult car to drive.

Looking back at Round 3, it wasn't a bad racing weekend. It was just unfortunate that I couldn't end the weekend with a better result. I am still in the top 2 in the championship and still firmly in the hunt for taking the JCW crown at the end of the year!


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