Last weekend the Mini Sport Motorsport team headed down to Rockingham for the 5th & 6th Round of the Mini Se7ens / Mini Miglia Championship. Now in its 47th season, the Mini Se7en Challenge has provided years of competitive racing, this season being one of the toughest yet with our drivers facing a range of technical obstacles and mishaps on every circuit.
However, the results are in for last week’s performances and the Mini Sport team is really showed the strength of their skills and their cars at the only anticlockwise circuit on the calendar. We got in touch with Leon, Adam and Dave following the event for a catch up on the day’s action.
(Above: MB Race Photography capture the action on the Rockingham Speedway)
The previous circuit at Snetterton had most certainly knocked the rust of Adam; who despite a rough ride ended up taking home the ‘Spax Improver Award’ for most places gained throughout the race and with Rockingham Speedway’s unique combination of banked corners and twisting infield, the team knew that this round would provide an interesting spectacle for all.
Free practice on the Saturday morning was encouraging with only 1/10th of a second separating the determined Mini Sport duo of Leon Wightman and Adam Smith; posting 8th and 9th quickest times respectively.
When it came to qualifying however, the issues that had been plaguing Leon were still present. Adam utilised his skill with a little NASCAR drafting on the oval to secure a significant position at 10th but slight over-working on the tyres meant that this position could only be maintained and he came in at 10th with Leon following at 15th on the grid.
Dave in the Miglia championship set off for qualifying on the Saturday morning, battling between position 9 and 7 for both starts. Fading brakes became the route of his main concern; which had become the result of rear wheel cylinder pipe union in need of a simple tighten.
The first race on the Mini Se7ens was dry but windy with 22 cars on the grid, the drivers held an ever watchful eye on the flags to see if it would be a head wind or a little extra push to help the cars down the main straight. Adam made a great start, whilst Leon succumbed to bad luck with an ignition system failure. Adam continued to make good progress, dicing with the pack in the midfield and trading places to record another solid result at 10th. With a little investigation, Leon’s problems were diagnosed and rectified over night.
(Above: Leon Wightman’s #4 & Adam Smiths #44)
Dave Drew over on the Miglia Challenge managed to get a fantastic start, which propelled him into the front 5 cars and after 3 laps a monumental battle began with 7 Miglia’s battling it out between 3rd and 9th place. Unfortunately Dave lost brake control together during this battle; as the front wheel bearing decided to let go causing the OS CV joint to run loose – the Mini Sport Miglia managed to maintain a position with the group despite this and claimed 4th overall with just 0.223 seconds between 3rd place. Dave stayed optimistic stating “A podium position was without doubt there for us, had we not had the wheel bearing failure but that’s motor racing I guess.”
By Sunday the weather had become a little unreliable with rain, drizzle, sun and drizzle again providing unpredictable variables for tyre choice for the second race. This was left to the last minute when Adam and Leon elected Dunlop Wets as their weapon of choice.
Dave Drew’s confidence was high following his successful result in the first race for the Miglia and it definitely showed with another fantastic start that propelled him from 7th to 3rd by turn two. However, the car was hit by #53, which launched Dave into #21 Miglia; but despite panel damage, the car was intact in geometry and a battle ensued with the Miglia Champion Rupert Deeth and Sam Summerhayes. Kane Astin led the field and a fight for 2nd place provided some great entertainment for spectators. Eventually on the penultimate lap both Summerhayes and Dave managed to get past Deeth and Dave powered to the finish in 2nd place – The 1st podium of the season for the Mini Sport Miglia team.
(Above: Dave Drew claims 2nd place on the Podium)
Over on the Mini Se7ens a positive start saw Leon move from 15th to 17th on the first turn, whilst Adam fought for 8th. A huge moment for the race leader saw a change in events that eliminated four cars from contention. Leon seized this moment; followed closely by Adam and the pair suddenly secured 2nd and 6th place. Struggling for grip on the increasingly slippery surface, the duo continued to move up and down the field whilst other cars fell by the wayside. Team Mini Sport continued to progress finishing with fantastic results with Leon in 4th and Adam in 5th. Notably the ‘Spax Improver Award’ was taken by Leon who had made up for 11 places, the teams second successive claiming of the accolade.
Relieved and pleased to know that Car #4 was working to it’s full potential again, Leon was feeling upbeat once more commenting ‘it’s a brilliant feeling to know the car is working well again and that all the effort has been rewarded by a good result for myself and the team. Thank you Mini Sport’
Whilst Adam was thrilled to have such a strong weekend in only his second meeting since an 18month absence from the racing scene he claimed ‘The car is working well and with the Brands Hatch Mini Festival as our next ever, we have a lot to look forward to.” You can view in car footage of Adam during Race 2 of the Mini Se7en‘s Rockingham here.
Dave continued ‘We have had plenty of bad luck lately and we all were so pleased to get the monkey off my back and get a podium finish, which is a great feeling knowing that the next rounds are the Brands Hatch Mini Festival.’
(Additional Photo Credits: MB Race Photography)