As Many of you Know the MINI Torque Racing car suffered a near terminal fire in round four of the UK Time Attack Championship last weekend, Do you want to be part of Team MTR & help with their re build and be in with a chance of winning some amazing prizes including a set of brand new Rota Grid V's? from Rare Rims. Details after the press release on how you can help and win some top prizes in return..
Ben Cunlife Team Principle of MTR: "but first let me tell you why as some of you might not know what MiniTorque Racing have been up to of late.
Following on from our successful testing at Brands Hatch last month with the new Garrett GT28RS turbo fitted, we simply couldn't wait for rounds 4 & 5 of Time Attack at Anglesey as we'd finally have the power help us keep our grip on the lead of the 2012 Time Attack championship. So as we began the long trek to one of the most beautiful tracks we’ve ever seen set right by the sea, the excitement amongst the team was palpable.
Early Saturday morning on race day and the weather couldn’t have been better; blue skies, sun shining and clear calm blue waters in the distance greeted us as we made our way to the pit wall to watch Dave complete his warm-up laps. On lap 2, the MINI was carrying more speed down the straight than we’d ever seen it produce before and with a fantastic new sound from the engine as the turbo chirped its way into the first corner as Dave lifted the throttle to remove some speed. But as we waited for him to come round again, we could see him pulling into the pit lane for an unscheduled stop, however instead of driving to the pit garage he stopped at the pit lane entrance and we could only look on in shock as flames started pouring from the bonnet scoop. Dave leapt from the car to help the quick thinking marshals get the blaze under control and the session was brought to a stop. Thankfully the fire had been contained to the engine bay and despite its ferocity, Dave and the marshals had done a brilliant job.
As we pushed the MINI back to the pit garage with its front end looking worse for wear, we finally got a chance to pop the bonnet and inspect the damage. To everyone else it looked terminal, but we refused to accept this and the team began working out what would need replacing and for those parts that we didn’t have in reserve, we quickly got on the phone to source them from local suppliers, no mean feat on a Saturday afternoon in north Wales. Within two hours all parts that needed replacing had been swapped out and Luke from minicraft was ready to see if the MINI would fire up. It seemed as if half the pit lane was there - spectators, competitors and even Time Attack officials all willing the little MINI into life. After a few attempts she finally started but on what sounded like 2 cylinders, there might be a chance yet, but then she died and refused to restart.
Half an hour later Luke tried again but to no avail, it turns out the ECU had shorted out and replacing it with another would be a step too far due to the sheer number of parts needed to make a non coded ECU work on our MINI. Being six hours away from minicraft HQ where a fix might be possible, there was no way the MINI could compete this weekend and we faced missing out on two rounds of points meaning we’d seriously lose our grip on the championship lead, the whole team and everyone around were genuinely gutted. The other teams rallied to try and help but nothing could be done.
As we sat there watching the drift cars strut their stuff and with only 30 minutes until club class qualifying an unexpected lifeline was thrown our way. A member of MiniTorque from Holland, Olaf Van der Hoorn, who’d driven over to support the team asked if we would like to use his MINI seeing as it was already tracked prepped and on MSA regulated rubber. After we’d picked up our jaws from off the floor we headed over to race control to speak to Glen Horncastle, Championship Co-ordinator, to find out if this would be allowed. “As long as you get the green light from the other competitors in your class” came the reply. So Dave hotfooted it around the pit garages to get approval.
Now, in any other race series I’m sure this would be a difficult task, but thanks to the incredibly friendly atmosphere in the pit lane where people genuinely help each other out, everyone agreed, and with just a few minutes left before qualifying was due to start we set about applying the necessary Time Attack stickers and asked the scrutineers to come down and sign off the MINI as ready to race. Time ticked away and as we were handed our scrutineers pass, we had exactly 4 minutes left to qualify, in other words, one out lap and one hot lap before the chequered flag would drop. Oh, and the same amount of time for Dave to get acquainted with left hand drive! But he would be given the same message he always gets before qualifying “Drop the hammer!”
Dave exited the pit lane leaving a small number eleven (sorry Olaf) and we raced to the pit wall to spur him on. Turns out leaving it until the last minute seems to suit him - one hot lap and he qualifies second, in a MINI he’s never driven before, on a track he’d only ever done three laps on and having to change gear with his right hand! None of us could quite believe it but we knew the celebrations would have to wait as we still had the final and another day of racing left to complete.
As the final approached, we kept everything crossed in hope that Dave could repeat what he’d achieving in qualifying and also that he’d bring Olaf’s MINI back in one piece. We needn’t have worried, as the chequered flag dropped Dave was 3rd, we’d made the podium and it never felt better. Cue hugs all round, champagne being sprayed all over Olaf and a little bit over the MINI for good luck.
Dawn on day two and today we would be running on the shorter coastal circuit, yet another layout for Dave to learn and having decided that we wouldn’t risk the MINI in warm-up or practice, yet again he was going to have to learn fast. We completed the necessary checks to ensure the MINI’s outing on day one hadn’t caused any damage and thankfully the it was A1 and ready to go. After competing a few laps of qualifying he came in complaining the MINI was understeering more than the previous day, which we knew was down to the much cooler track temperature. We tried our best to adjust the settings to make up for it but David simply wasn’t feeling ‘at one’ with the MINI as he had before. The results came in and we’d finished fourth, but importantly fourth still meant some much needed championship points but we needed a better showing in the final if we were to keep our grip on the championship lead.
Being reluctant to change too many settings on an already unfamiliar MINI, we tried our best to get some heat into the tyres by adjusting the tyre pressures and ensuring Dave did his part on track with some F1 style weaving and riding the brakes to try and transfer some heat. It worked, he was within a second of the much more powerful Focus RS and ahead of Astra GSI, but the Astra VXR of two time champion Bo Neilsen was too far ahead to catch in this MINI, it had given all it could. The team watched the times closely from the pit wall as we willed the chequered flag to be waved and soon enough it was, we were third, another podium finish, and although it meant Bo was now leading the championship, it was only by 10 points leaving it all to play for at Snetterton. We couldn’t have been happier, the whole MiniTorque ethos of ‘never say die’ had won through and kept us in the game, the champagne never tasted so sweet and was shared by everyone who’d helped and supported us.
As we headed home the guys at minicraft had warned us that our MINI was going to need serious investigation to find the cause of the fire. A few days later we would receive the news that it was down to an electrical failure in an upgraded part that had been added the day before Time Attack, a part in which failure was pretty much unheard of but that would cost us nearly £2000 due to the damage it caused through the fire it sparked. As it stands right now it has put us out of the championship as our budget, and contingency budget for that matter, has already been spent due to the turbo issues at Brands Hatch. Couple that with the running costs of attending the final two rounds and in total we need to find just over £3500 to finish the season and battle for the championship trophy. So far we’ve personally managed to raise £2,000 but unfortunately we’re £1,500 short and time is running out to get the parts on the car and tested before Snetterton. The annoying part is we know just how quick the MINI was at Angelsey before the fire started and it would have enabled us to really challenge Bo that weekend and all the way to the chequered flag at the final round at Snetterton next month
Want to help? Please follow the link below to find details about the amazing Team MTR prizes on offer in return for you help: