She would be without team mate Sarah Moore for this round after Moore made a late deal to race in the new LMP3 championship (See separate report). The two had worked well together as a team at Silverstone and Hughes would definitely miss her team mate.
The Mini’s were on the 1.55 Mile coastal layout for the weekend and fortunately the weather was as beautiful as the views from the circuit.
It’s important to be able to run close to another car doing what is known as drafting in Minis as the extra speed you gain from running together really helps lap times. As Hughes was on her own this weekend she was happy to find Damien Harrington to draft with on track, he was driving at a similar pace. Initially she was in second but something seemed to change in the car part way through the session and she slid down the order slightly. She spoke afterwards;
“To qualify on the fourth row of the grid when the car felt quite flat was very pleasing. With the top ten cars all qualifying within one second, it was very tight.”
She hoped things would be better for the race as she lined up on the first grid of the weekend. Initially she found she was struggling to get enough grip from the tyres, dropping her from seventh to tenth in the first few laps. But then things improved as she explains;
“As the race progressed, the car really came to me and during the second half of the race, I had some fantastic battles and came through the order right upto fourth place – battling for a podium finish!”
She was especially quick coming through the Rocket, Peel and the Corkscrew sections where she found she could slice past rivals, passing six cars in the next three laps.
Race two was a reverse grid and the top seven were reversed. This put her in fourth on the grid as the others reversed around her. Hughes had spoken to her Psychology coach, Dr Phil De Prez of PAS training before the race and this seemed to help with her start as she launched straight into second place. Unfortunately something seemed to be wrong with her car once more as it was noticeably slower then her rivals and they were pulling away as the cars headed down the long straight from Church to Rocket.
“I could tell the car wasn’t 100% but this made me fight harder and harder into the corners. I fought that hard that in lap 11 of 12, I managed 0.2 off the fastest lap of the race. I had to change my style of driving to achieve this.” She explained afterwards.
Despite the problems, she finished in ninth place which meant she still scored some important points for the championship.
The car will now get some major development for work Thruxton which will include a new engine and gearbox meaning Hughes will definitely be back on the pace for the next championship round.
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