In its third year the Mini Festival has already become a constant feature in my household. There are two very simple reasons for this:
1. it’s great fun and the day is filled with Minis;
2. the quality of the event is constant.
My best friend and I both prefer the classic Minis over the much bigger variety of BMW persuasion (known as ‘maxi Minis’ or ‘Binis’), so we were a bit sad to see the pre-1966 Mini race organised during the 2014 edition scrapped both last year and this year. Thankfully there are plenty of classic Minis left (Mini Se7en and Mini Miglia races). And, it has to be said, the drivers of the newer Minis do put on one hell of a show!
The action on track started at 08:30 with qualifying sessions for all the races that day, so if you get there early there is already plenty to see. This year it seems there was even more off-track action (YoungDrive! sessions, drift shows and music), just in case you don’t feel like watching Minis all day long. However, that is not my thing, so I stayed trackside most of the time.
This year there was a supporting race: Maximumgroup.net VAG Trophy. That translates to a lot of Volkswagens and one Seat racing for 20 minutes twice a day. I have seen this group race before at Donington Park and thoroughly enjoyed it. This time they didn’t disappoint either. Even though I’m not a fan of Golfs, Polos and Sciroccos, they look very good on track.
A few cars passed my viewing point with inexplicable and identical (!) damage to the left front. From the commentary I could not make out what had happened, but it’s certainly surprising to see three cars with similar damage and no cars with any sign of damage that may have caused it. Perhaps they all hit the same spot on track and the commentators didn’t deem it worthy to mention?
One race (Mini Challenge – Cooper S, Cooper, Open 180) was abandoned after a crash right after the start. Initially the grid was set up again, but the recovery of the cars involved took so long it was decided to not restart the race.
Both races for newer Minis were quite close anyway. One car ended up pretending to be a lawnmower and drove around with quite some grass in its grill. Others had clearly been fighting a little too tightly; dents and missing parts were not an uncommon sight.
During one race in the afternoon we saw two Minis try to take the same corner at the same time. Thankfully they both managed to stay on track, but I can imagine there were words…
As always our main objective was to see the classic Minis race. With four races in total we certainly got what we asked for!
Racing was incredibly diverse. We saw very close racing, as always, but also a 28 second lead by Shayne Deegan in the Mini Miglia race in the afternoon. There was smoke (looked like an engine blew), there were crashes, off track moments, slipping and sliding, drifting and even bits falling of cars.
Throughout the day the weather never made up its mind. We had rain, sun, wind and clouds and it was alternating all day. I don’t know if this contributed to the eventful day. I say eventful because there were quite a few safety car moments, as mentioned we had an abandoned race and of course there were ‘moments’ due to cars being out on slicks while it was raining. It must not have been easy for the drivers and I have to say kudos to them for sticking it out and continuing. I was certainly happy to brave the weather and not leave until the very end. It was well worth it…again.
Can’t wait for next year!