Mini Sport Sponsored Leon Wightman: 2018 Dunlop Mini Miglia Challenge 3rd & 4th Round Report

Race Report Snetterton – 12/13th May.

Well with the Mini Sport backed Mini Seven all prepped and looking today after Pembrey, it was a welcome, shorter 2 hour drive to the next round of the Dunlop Mini Se7en Championship in Norfolk. It’s a hectic time leading up to events , and as I’m doing everything single handedly these days, every minute counts!

Qualifying didn’t go well at all unfortunately, as after 2 laps I was hit whilst passing a back marker. The car felt awful, wouldn’t turn nicely so a pit-stop was required. Nothing was about to fall off but I was a lowly 22nd out of 26. The real issue was that now I had lost all the other cars, so couldn’t gain any tow which is influential in getting a good time here. So with unwieldy car, and half a session left I went back out and salvaged a more respectable 15th position, but less than ideal. Once back in the pits it was very obvious that the impact had moved the rear radius arm and changed the geometry , handling issues explained and a quick and easy fix.

The first race was a tough call between dry or wet tyres with variable weather right up to race time – I opted for dry tyres, but many didn’t. I made a good start & started to make some places but couldn’t keep up with the drivers on wets, it was simply too greasy… At first! After 3 laps I could sense a change in the conditions and gave myself a good talking to for not pushing earlier. Which did the trick and I made progress through the field up to 9th. A solid top ten finish rescued from a poor qualification session. Ultimately, wets had an advantage for 2-3 laps, which let those running them create a gap which they maintained even though dry tyres became the better option. It just goes to show how close this series is when a small advantage can be exploited to great effect.

PJW_R4_ (045)However, with the grid for Race 2 decided by quickest Race lap times, I was pleased to move up to 10th as a start position. I thought I made a good start but got pinched by a rapid car so had to back out to avoid a nasty start incident, it left me straggling back in 12th. But as others made mistakes, I capitalised and was back to 11th by lap 2. With more retirements I found myself in 9th and had caught the pack in front which covered 5/6/7th and 8th. But also had 10th right behind me. This led to a great battle of wits as to where I should position myself to avoid giving away the “tow” down the back straight, once that’s been given away you simply can’t stop them sailing right past.

With 2 laps to go we caught a back marker right at the apex of a slower corner and couldn’t get past until we had clear track again. This meant I lost touch with the pack in front and ended up in a tactical battle for 9th and 10th position. It became a cat and mouse game made up of track position, clean corner entry and exits and engine power. I held my nerve, kept pushing and managed to open a gap just big enough to prevent giving away the advantage, and came home in 9th position again. Two strong top ten finishes, no damage to car, and the cobwebs well and truly blown away after most of 2017 not racing…

Great times, great racing and another good showing with the help of Mini Sport onwards to Thruxton next on the 1st & 2nd June, the fastest circuit in England and it’s 50th Anniversary Celebration event – See you there!

Blog courtesy of Leon Wightman.

Photos courtesy of Peter Waller.

Stay up-to-date with all of Leon’s results through the 2018 Championship on Mini Sport’s Facebook here.

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