Warm summer sun mixed with cooler autumnal rain showers certainly made for a lively Mini Festival at Brands Hatch, with a couple of surprise but no less deserved winners.
Saturday’s Miglia race started off with a bang on the opening lap – literally – when a coming together down Paddock Hill continued up to Druids, leaving several cars out of the running. On the restart, it was Nick Padmore who was able to open up a gap, including a new lap record, from Aaron Smith and Lee Deegan, with series leader Dave Drew just making it back out onto the grid and settling for a damage-limitation 8th place behind fellow title rivals Rupert Deeth, Alfie Brown, Colin Peacock and Kane Astin.
A record-breaking Mini Libre entry saw David Franks well up into the top 10 overall to secure the class victory, with a good battle for second between newcomer Rob Davis and Ian Fraser once Steve Baker had dropped out.
With rain having dampened the track, the opening Se7en encounter saw differing tyre choices, and had the race been a lap or two longer then we may have seen an absolute shock result. As it was, Spencer Wanstall finally broke his Se7en duck to help his title aspirations, while poleman Andrew Deviny took the runner-up spot.
Leon Wightman was third Se7en home but in fourth place overall, as Scott Kendall’s S-Class took the final podium position once front row starter Nick Croydon-Fowler had dropped down the order, while Andy Dickinson was third in class ahead of Thorburn Astin.
Challenge series leaders before Brands, Max Hunter and Tom Sanderson had mixed fortunes, the former unable to race after a hospital op’ the day before, while the latter salvaged a top-six finish.
Sunday would be wet and dreary all day, although that didn’t prevent the on-track action being the usual high standard. Once again, Padmore moved into the Miglia lead, but was kept on his toes throughout by Deegan, the latter able to snatch the lead briefly before being relegated back to a chasing role, with Smith getting the better of Brown, Astin and Deeth for third.
Drew topped up his title lead in 7th, while a superb Libre dice between Franks and Gary Warburton was only settled on the last lap, behind them early class leader Fraser taking third ahead of Justin Cooper and Phil Harvey. Special mention too for Belgian visitor, Pieter Van Cleemputte, who gamely plugged on to record a Libre finish after a mid-race spin and having overheated on the grid the day before. Good to see Peter Hills back out too in a new car.
In an extraordinary Sunday Se7en battle, Daniel Budd overcame his Thruxton rollover demons with a well-judged first Se7en victory ahead of Deviny, driving a newly built car affectionately nicknamed ‘The Pink Pig’ in deference to its colour scheme.
Even more extraordinary was the performance from Max Hunter, who rose from the back row to third on the road, having only qualified to start in the morning warm-up. Later Deviny would be excluded for a collision with a backmarker, promoting Hunter to second and Wanstall to third, the latter’s second podium position of the weekend.
S-Class honours fell to Croydon-Fowler, despite a mid-race spin, pushing Kendall back to second and Astin into third. Debutant Stephen Colbran took an excellent fourth to add to a fifth the day before.
The final two meetings of the 2018 National calendar begin with a trip to Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire over the 8-9 September weekend.
Race 1 17 laps (red-flagged & restarted)
1 56 Nick Padmore
2 21 Aaron Smith
3 0 Lee Deegan
9 186 David Franks (Libre)
Race 1 18 laps
1 5 Spencer Wanstall
2 77 Andrew Deviny
3 708 Scott Kendall (S-Class)
4 45 Leon Wightman
Race 2 19 laps
1 56 Nick Padmore
2 0 Lee Deegan
3 21 Aaron Smith
? 186 David Franks (Libre)
Race 2 18 laps
1 47 Daniel Budd
2 46 Max Hunter
3 5 Spencer Wanstall
6 777 Nick Croydon-Fowler (S-Class)
Words by: Richard Williamson