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Laura Harris Racing Main Image

 

Laura Harris Blog profile Image

By Laura Harris
June 6, 2017

Mighty Minis Championship 2017
Race 3 - Thruxton Blog

 

Thruxton 3rd & 4th June
Having had a few power issues with the car at the previous race, myself and the team at Acespeed did some investigations and found that the massive clunk at the start of the second race had been the bolt holding the Engine Steady Bar to the block shearing off causing the exhaust to come loose! In a Mini this unfortunately means the engine has to come out in order to get to it properly. The head also got a refurb with some new valve springs, followed by a trip to the rolling road for a bit of tweaking, resulting in a respectable BHP.

The 3rd round of the 2017 Mighty Minis Championship was held at Thruxton circuit in Hampshire. It’s not a circuit I’ve been to before and I’d heard many stories about how quick it was, that it was a tyre destroyer and that if you go off it’s going to be a big off! With these things in mind I thought it would be a good idea to get down there on Thursday evening ready for a couple of practice sessions I’d booked for the Friday… but you know what they say about the best made plans!

 

Thruxton

Credit: Image from Thruxton 2017 - lhpic

 

Thursday
Warm and sunny. Got the Passat loaded up with all my tools and camping gear, and hooked up the trailer and we were ready for the off in good time. All seemed to be going well 'till I got to the M1 turn off and coming up the slip road I heard a strange noise. As I came to a stop at the lights, I put it down to the van that was along side me at the time. Round the round-about and down onto the M1 with sounds of ’flap, flap, flap’! I had a trailer puncture and there was no hard shoulder! Soon 'flap flap flap’ turned into ’scrape, crunch, bang’ as I limped it to the next exit, which luckily was only half a mile away. Warm and sunny tuned into baking and unbearable as I changed the wheel, with a few profanities along the way and lorries passing too close for comfort! Dripping with sweat and in a foul mood I got back in and drove to the next services to check it over and put some more air in the spare. Here I noticed the big cut in the wall of the tyre that had been hidden from view by how the spare is mounted to the trailer… I wasn’t about to do another 200 miles there and back on this so I turned round and went back.

Option one, 2 new tyres…the tyre suppliers stock turned out to be missing! (I can sympathise somewhat, it has happened to all of us at Moss at some point when a customer has come to collect a part).

Option two, borrow a traile. My good friend, Andy, who also looks after the Mini, dug out one of his trailers and lent me it for the weekend. By now it was 4:30, I was sweaty and filthy and the thought of a 5 hour drive didn’t exactly fill me with joy! So, I decided an early night and an early start would be a better idea!

 

Thruxton

Credit: Image from Thruxton 2017 - lhpic

 

Friday
Went to collect the trailer but there were no indicator but wasn’t sure if it was the adaptor (13 to 7 pin) I’d just bought or the trailer and unfortunately the cable on my lighting board was 2ft too short! It was 06:45 and I had to make a move before the morning traffic started. With some careful and early lane planning I made it down to Thruxton in an exhausting 5 hours 15 minutes. I had a couple of hours to unload and rest before my first test session at 2:30.

With only a handful of cars in the session I got some good clean runs. The first two or three laps I thought to myself ‘OMG what have I let myself in for’. The track is one of the longest at just short of 2.4 miles and it’s easy to lose your bearings. After a few laps I knew my way around and started to pick up some speed. My second session was at 4pm and now I knew my way around I was able to get some good flying laps in. The stories were true, it really is a very quick circuit, you only brake twice. First at Campbell and Cob corners, then again at Club chicane which is a tricky one to get right as it’s easy to brake far too early. I didn’t have another car to gauge against but it felt quick.

 

Thruxton

Credit: Image from Thruxton 2017 - lhpic

 

Saturday
Qualifying 11:25am - The original plan was for me and Craig to stick together for a bit in quali so we could draft each other to get a quicker time but unfortunately we soon got split up. Getting caught up behind some of the slower drivers who think it’s a race and won’t let you past was frustrating at times but I managed to get on the back of a few of the quicker drivers. It also gave me a chance to get some idea of being on this track with other cars and where the best places to pass were. Out of 18 starters I qualified 10th, not a bad place to be on the start line.

With the first race not being for a few hours we got a chance to look around the trucks that were on show as it was also the Truck racing festival that weekend. I’ve never seen so many trucks at a standstill in one place before …apart from the odd trip on the M25 that is #World'sbiggestcarpark! They were all clean with their driver's polishing furiously, very much like the classic car shows we go to! The racing trucks are mental though! A fair bit smaller than the road going type but still, going round club in a Mini two abreast is tight enough, but in a truck… absolutely bonkers!

Race 1I’m going to be perfectly honest with you… I remember the start of a race and the finish, but everything in between was a bit of a blur. You forget about what went wrong in the last lap and concentrate on the next. I write these reports by looking back at my camera footage to jog my memory a little. The battery on my GoPro died before the start of race 1! I remember Simon and I having a bit of a coming together and thinking to myself ‘ouch, that sounds expensive!’ Luckily it was just a tyre mark and a dented door (quick push from the inside soon sorted that!), unfortunately for Simon it pushed his tyre wall away from the rim reducing the pressure in his tyre forcing him to retire from the race. He was in luck though, unlike poor Stuart who got caught up in somebody elses accident and unfortunately rolled his Mini a couple of laps earlier! They took the finishing positions from the previous lap meaning Simon got a result and I finished in 8th place and was very pleased with that.

 

Thruxton

Credit: Image from Thruxton 2017 - lhpic

 

Sunday
The race wasn’t 'till later that afternoon, giving me chance to pack up and watch a bit of the truck racing… just bonkers!

Race 2 The first 7 finishers of race 1 were reversed meaning I narrowly lost out on pole position! Sarah, the winner of the first race was alongside me. The plan was to get in behind her and follow her through the pack. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out like that as I got the better start! But I couldn’t quite get to the inside of the first corner quick enough meaning that the 2 cars behind us followed her through instead. I chased down Paul who had got past me on the start and got the inside line and the better exit out of Church bend passing as I did so. As I entered Club chicane there were 5 cars in my mirror. As I started lap 2 the group behind me had fallen back but Paul was soon catching me up. Whilst defending my place I could see the number 49 car of Peter V-B and I was closing in. I caught up and passed him round Village corner (I say corner, but most of them are just slight curves in the track that you go round foot to the floor!). In the distance I could see the front runners.

Going into lap 4 it was all about defending my position. With Jim now right on my tail and the others behind, I couldn’t afford any mistakes. Into lap 5, still holding my position I needed to execute every corner with precision to keep the speed at the maximum. I could see Jim in my mirror trying to squeeze through on the inside at church, but he got something wrong as I saw him disappear onto the grass! I must admit there was a sigh of relief, not for long though as Simon was right behind me! He got my tow and came past on Woodham hill, just before Club chicane. Into lap 6…back past Simon on the inside at Church, but then Jims back and comes past up the hill. Lap 7, Jim in front Simon behind and once again there was swapping and changing of places.

Lap 8, by the time we got to club chicane it was Jim, me, Simon. Jim & I entered the chicane side by side and had a slight coming together (again, sounded expensive!), but he got out before me. Lap 9, the Super Mighty minis are coming! They come up behind you like a swarm of wasps with their straight cut gear boxes. They can either be a help or a hindrance, they either hinder the car in front helping you to catch up, or hinder you helping the car in front to get away. Elliot was first through with a good lead on the other supers. Lap 10, the next 3 supers came through at Campbell and Cob. Jim managed to get through before them but I got caught up in the middle, slowing me down. Simon was once again right on my tail but Jim was far in the distance. Lap 11, this has got to be the last lap, the most stressfull one of all ”don’t mess up Laura” I repeatedly told myself, but at the same time defend like your life depends on it, I won’t let those cars who are dying to take my place get passed! Coming round the last corner all I wanted to see was that chequered flag.

Lap 12, no such luck… this one has to be the last lap! Hold it together and focus on what you have to do! I kept my position, I wasn’t going to let anybody take that from me. The next wave of supers came past up Woodhall Hill. I approached Club for what would hopefully be the last time and I suddenly see Peter make a dive up the outside going into the right hander, but went in far too quick and hit the curb going into the left hander sending him sideways. I was forced over onto the right hand curb but kept it straight and brought it round onto the finish straight. Hallelujah!...the chequered flag, how glad I was to see that!

What a fantastic and hard fought race. Although I was pleading with the race gods for it to end, it was one of my best races, both through sheer enjoyment, and I finishe in 6th place which is my best result yet!

 

Thruxton

Credit: Image from Thruxton 2017 - lhpic

 

The next race is at Brands Hatch on the 8th and 9th of July. It’s a of weekend of Mini only racing as it’s the Brands Hatch mini festival, so if you’re there don’t forget to come and say hi down in the paddock. Brands Hatch is closely followed by Donington truck festival where the Mighty Minis will be racing, and that’s on the 22nd and 23rd of July.

 

Follow my blog page for all of the race build ups and the races themselves throughout the season!

 

 

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