How time flies when you’re enjoying yourselves, and the 2016 Dunlop Mini racing season was another belter. Last year’s opener at the Wiltshire circuit was rained off in March, entailing a return visit two months later for the mega Mini racers and, as ever, putting on four brilliant races for an appreciative Combe crowd. For 2017 entries are on the up again so expect another action-filled start to the season.
2017 DUNLOP MINI SE7EN & MINI MIGLIA CHALLENGE supported by MINI SPARES
Rounds 1 + 2
CASTLE COMBE ‘Howards Day’ Monday 17 April 2017
MINI SE7EN + S-CLASS
The longer-established Mini Se7ens go into their 52nd championship season with entries as strong as ever in the nowadays 1.0-litre formula, headed by 2016 Champion Ashley Davies. It all came right for the young Welshman after several seasons edging closer to the front, culminating in nine victories and a 48-point margin over his nearest rival by season end.
Yet to reach the top step of the podium, another youngster, Spencer Wanstall from Kent put in some consistently high finishes to take the runner-up spot ahead of several other winners and former class champions, including the likes of Max Hunter, Lewis Selby, Andrew Deviny, Darren Thomas, Paul Spark and Tina Cooper. However, the seasoned campaigners can only keep the rest of the younger chargers at bay for so long, and Kieren McDonald, Charlie Budd, Tom Sanderson and Leon Window all came to the fore in 2016.
The great thing about Mini Se7ens however is that people keep coming back no matter how long a sabbatical, so keep an eye out for the likes of Graeme Davis, Tim Stanbridge and, in his septegenarian decade, Eian Riddiford, all three having been racing in the formula nearly three decades before many of their rivals were born!
Competition in the Mini Se7en feeder series, the budget-tuning 1275cc S-Class, has grown rapidly in recent seasons and although reigning class champion Josh Collins (based not far from Combe) looks set for a sabbatical this season, the likes of Shaun Tarlton, Justin Cooper and Julian Affleck will be among the favourites. S-Class cars are identified by green markings and numbers in the #700s.
Se7en lap record: Jabez Dyer 1:24.002 (79.28 mph) set on 28 April 2015
MINI MIGLIA + MINI LIBRE
The younger of the two main Mini formulae, Mini Miglia began in earnest in 1970, and has established itself over the years as the ultimate full-race Mini tuning championship, these days powered by 1.3-litre engines. Former Stock Hatch champion Shayne Deegan cleaned up last season and may well be moving on to another challenge, so the field looks very open for 2017, especially after the introduction of several major regulation changes intended to attract greater depth of entries.
The 2014 and 2015 champions respectively, Rupert Deeth and Kane Astin, should start as favourites, although Rob Howard, Aaron Smith and Dan Wheeler have all been recent winners, while Sam Summerhayes and James Coulson have consistently edged up the points tables too.
A dark horse could be Nick Padmore who brings several years’ of historic Mini racing success with him, and whose dad Keith was a Miglia regular in the 1970s/80s, likewise 2003 Winter series champion Martin Wager whose father Richard was also a leading Miglia contender in the 1980s/90s.
Look out too for a new M7RC initiative, Mini Libre, which will form up at the tail of the Miglia grid This invitational class is for any A-Series powered Mini saloon racer, and which nods a wink to the heady days of ‘Free Formula’ Minis from the late 1960s/early 1970s, and which often lined up on the early Mini Miglia grids.
Mini Libre cars will run with light blue markings and 3-figure numbers.
Miglia lap record: Shayne Deegan 1:16.466 (87.09 mph) set on 30 May 2016
Words by: Richard Williamson
Racing • 3rd Apr, 17 •