Chloe Hewitts Positive Mini challenge weekend at Silverstone

The car in the awningChloe Hewitt tells us about her Mini challenge Open class weekend at Silvertone;

The weekend of the 3rd and 4th of June was a step in the right direction. It was time to jump in the driving seat, of my Mini Cooper S once again. After arriving at Silverstone Friday evening, we were quietly confident that I would be competitive in qualifying and the races after not having tested on Friday.

It was me, my Dad, Mum and brother for Saturday qualifying and race one of the weekend. I like the piece sometimes, but the lads are a big part of the team and the fun of the weekends.

Qualifying was like a test session, getting back into the car after a few weeks, checking issues from last time out at Snetterton. And readjusting to the track after having not been there for a year. Silverstone holds a special place in my heart due to being the first race circuit that I raced on.

As I was saying qualifying was just a bit of a shake down so it was no surprise to qualify at the back of the grid in tenth. I started with five laps building up the confidence but struggling with understeer for the green flag. During the pit stop the tyre pressures were lowered, however not enough to make a lot of difference. Although at six out of the 10 cars then failed scrutineering, us included, for failing the ride height which means that the car is too low. Thankfully for everyone the results still stood.

Race one was a bit of a shock having a race long battle with seven cars involved, all battling for fourth place. After a very close battle with Kevin Owen following closely behind Tim Bill and Aaron Reeve. Aaron shot off at Becketts with a failure after a couple of laps, moving us both up a spot. Then a few laps later Tim Bill burst a pipe and dropped all his coolant on the apex of the same corner, therefore entering the next few corners behind Tim he was very sideways. As the smoke then continued to poor out of the rear of the blue car. My car, got covered down Wellington straight, in the coolant coming from the Engine of the 606 car. It was scary as he got very sideways at Copse Corner, where I managed to slip up the inside, as Tim was straightening up I thought I was done as he swerved towards my path, but thankfully he managed to keep it all collected up. I really don’t know how. This caused bunching letting Neil Ginley to catch up with me and Kev causing this three way battle. We ran three wide down the Pits Straight going on to the last lap. I was the filling in the bread and due to having two more races the next day I gave way. However, even though I lost a place on the final lap I was happy to finish with a car in one piece. Due to Kevin Own in car 8 getting a jump start penalty I was then bumped to sixth overall. However, due to a technicality infringement the winning car was excluded so I was then bumped up to fifth overall.

Saturday morning was very eventful, I went to move the race car around forty five minutes before race two of the weekend, to find that the power steering motor had gone overnight.

he big rush began we had the problem diagnosed. Then we had to find a new motor, thankfully we were able to borrow one off of Excelr8. But we now know that it is a common problem so we will be prepared for next time. Apparently, it’s a 10 minute job, changing the motor. Well it wasn’t for us we got down to the gridding area about 5 minutes before we were due to go out for race two. Phew! A massive thanks to Marcus, Dad and Steve for getting it changed over in time for the race. And thanks to James for being on standby with the cleaning products for the quick clean up after the dramatic change.

Well even though the car was now ready to go again, race two didn’t go quite to plan, I managed to get a great start and propel myself up into fourth place however, I didn’t get the best run down to Maggotts therefore, losing a of places after the first corner. A couple of laps in Maggotts I lock the near side front allowing the two behind to catch at a rapid pace. Kevin got the run down the Wellington straight, I turned into Brooklands knowing that he was close but he was in my blind spot, therefore I couldn’t see him on the turn in. I turned in cautiously but I did have to turn in. Unfortunately I did get a hit on the nears side rear quarter. I managed to hold it, but unfortunately I did over correct myself and ended up spinning towards the entrance of Luffield. I was unsure to lean on the near side rear of the car after that. Therefore I don’t believe that my pace was truly shown in that race. Yes; I was still in the 1.09’s but, I believe I could have been a lot closer to the 1.08’s. I also had a flat spot on the front left so was unsure of the vibration that I have for the course of the race. I ended the race ninth so that was where I would start the final race of the weekend, as the reverse grid draw is between fourth, fifth and sixth. However, the incident with Kevin during the race was hugged out even before we got up in front of the Clerk.

After a wheel change on the front near side and the flat spotted tyre on the rear of the car, we were ready for the final race of the weekend. Bring on race three!

I got another rocket start and made up a place. However, I was lucky at Copse where the two cars in front of me collided after looking for the same piece of track. They ended up on the outside of the corner, one with substantial amount of damage and was unable to move. They covered Copse with yellow flags for the first three laps. But I was unable to loose concentration as I had Neil Ginley on my rear bumper. After Neil made the move I was unable to fight back, although apply the pressure for the duration of the race I was never close enough to make a move. However, on the last lap going into Brooklands Neil lost the back end. Again feeling very lucky that I has a near miss. But making up a place and coming home to finish the final race of the weekend in sixth place. We were very fortunate to have had a dry weekend, as we pulled the cars out of parc ferme for the final time the heavens opened and it poured.

On the whole we had a very positive weekend that the whole team are happy with. I think I did them proud, so that’s good enough for me.

Once again a huge thank you to the sponsors, that have helped me get this far; Hylton Gott Volvo; Kleers; Rock Oil; Peak Performance Reviews; and all the friends and family that have helped us along the way. By Chloe Hewitt

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