Jo Polley, PETROLHEAD Brand Ambassador:
End of season review.
….I got off to a flying start, taking to the Mini Se7en S-Class straight away. I took two 2nd places at the pre-season Winter Series round at Silverstone, closely followed by two 2nds at the first Championship round at Croft. So far so good.
Next, Thruxton where we supported the high profile British Touring Car Championships. After qualifying in P3 my successful run abruptly ended with a hefty crash in the first race which bent the rear sub-frame. The Icon Autos team managed to get her straight enough to make race 2 but she was hindered by the damage and I could only manage to drag her up to finish in 6th, although I did manage to make an appearance on ITV4’s racing live during their coverage of the Sunday racing.
On returning home we sent the car away to be pulled straight on a jig just in time to head to our international round at Zandvoort, Netherlands. Here the first race was cancelled due to a big crash and torrential rain, then I suffered contact in race 2 from one of the supposedly faster Se7ens as I overtook it which forced a DNF. Race 3 was a marginal improvement but with the car feeling down on power I could only manage a 5th.
On to the Brands Hatch Mini Festival which was perhaps the most frustrating of all. Oh no I hear you cry! Half way through the first race I was in a strong position and the engine ‘let go’ and in race 2 I ran in to the back of a slower Se7en class car which was blocking me, and bust the radiator.
The silver lining to this was, with the blown engine rather forcing the issue, we would bring forward the future plan to convert the pink PETROLHEAD S-Class back to a full spec Se7en, using one of my partner, Jeff’s spare engines rather than have the S-Class engine rebuilt. This meant I would change classes and move up to a Mini Se7en. Bring it on.
After some late nights and hard work we were back at Brands Hatch again on the GP Circuit this time supporting the impressive DTM, the German touring car championships, and the much publicised W Series final round. An impressive race meet for my first outing as a full spec Se7en. Unfortunately my bad luck continued as the gamble of using the unknown ‘spare’ spare engine did not pay off ; it played up all weekend and I didn’t finish a single race.
Cadwell Park next. Thinking we had found the engine problem (a bent valve) the car felt good in testing on the Friday until it locked a rear wheel on the entry to Mansfield and chucked the car heavily in to the tyre barrier cracking the front sub-frame this time. The team worked on the car flat out to get another sub-frame in, kindly lent by another driver and I made it out just in time managing to qualify in a decent 8th postion and actually finished 7th in both races, which wasn’t too bad for my first races in the Se7en class but the car and engine didn’t feel great with the damage from the crash.
For the final round at Castle Combe after finding it still was down on power we changed the engine for Jeff’s other ‘best’ spare engine. This rather risky decision meant as he was fighting for the Championship if he needed to change engines we would have to take it out for him to use. Luckily this didn’t happen and I finally managed to complete a race meeting in the Se7en without any problems finishing in P7 and P6 out of 17 cars in class. The final race was really hard fought so I was finally happy with myself and the car ending a pretty frustrating season on a positive.
Jeff won the Mini Se7en Championship so it was a good end to what has been a roller coaster first season in the longest running one (car) make championship in the country.
In 2019 we also ventured in to FIA Masters Historic racing, in a 1964 Austin Mini Cooper S where Jeff and I shared the car competing in the Pre-66 Touring Car one hour races with a driver change half way through. We successfully finished P5 in our first outing at Brands GP Historic Festival and P4 at Donington in the large competitive mini field.
Looking forwards to 2020 the plan is to carry on in Mini Se7ens and also hopefully do more historic racing. It has been tough at times, a steep learning curve this year, starting in a new championships with new cars and lots of teething problems but we will be much better equipped to hit the ground running next season off the back of this year’s successes and lessons.
Thank you to the Mini 7 Club and Masters Historic Racing for making us so welcome, we’ve had some excellent racing. And a huge thank you to BYKATHRYN for coming on board and fully embracing the crazy world of mini racing! It has been a pleasure to represent PETROLHEAD perfume and the BYKATHRYN brand.