Pandamonium Racing’s Hamish Brandon narrowly missed out on a podium place but was “very, very happy” as he achieved three solid finishes in the Power Maxed Mini Challenge at a sunny Oulton Park on Saturday.
Hawick-based Brandon was quick to familiarise himself with Oulton Park’s 2.69-mile International layout in the qualifying on Saturday morning, to position his Excelr8 Motorsport-prepared John Cooper Works (JCW) Mini sixth with a best time of 1min 55.722sec.
In a first race that saw six retirements in the 27-car field, Brandon kept a cool head and negotiated his way past the slower Cooper Class without incurring any damage. He battled within the top six for the duration of the 11-lap contest before crossing the line an impressive sixth, ahead of Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup runner Rob Smith.
After a three-hour interval, Brandon lined-up fourth for the second race, where he was quick to stay with third-placed Chris Russell and challenge for a podium position.
Brandon continued to push his Panda-liveried JCW Mini racer under pressure from Excelr8 Motorsport team-mate Chris James. Brandon drove the widest Mini on the circuit, but was passed by both James and Neil Newstead as the race neared its conclusion to cross the line a respectable sixth.
Having avoided any incidents throughout the day’s action, Brandon found himself on pole for the third and final race thanks to the reversed grid, and would be searching for his first JCW win.
As the five red lights went out for the final time at Oulton Park, Brandon bolted off the line to lead the 25-car field down to Old Hall Corner but, due to running on used rubber, fell into the clutches of his rivals. The Cooper graduate was able to manage his tyre wear to set several personal best lap times and challenge the frontrunners, before crossing the line fourth.
“I’ve come away from this weekend very, very happy,” said Brandon. “I know we were not on the podium, but the team and I have been looking at data and have found that we are much closer to the frontrunners than we have been in previous rounds.
“I feel a lot more confident in the car and am able to push a lot harder, whereas before I would ease off.
“We were only allowed two sets of tyres on Saturday and I pushed a little too hard on them in the first race, as I began to understeer a lot towards the end, but I finished sixth, which was good.”
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