Pandamonium Racing’s Hamish Brandon concluded an impressive debut season in the headline John Cooper Works (JCW) division of the Power Maxed MINI Challenge with a brace of top six finishes at Brands Hatch to secure fifth in the Drivers’ standings (13-14 September).
Despite missing free practice on Wednesday (10 September) due to business commitments, Brandon threw himself and his Excelr8 Motorsport-run MINI JCW into the fray for Saturday (13 September) morning’s qualifying session, where he positioned himself eighth with a best time of 1m42.730s.
Knowing that several drivers ahead of him would be fighting for the runner-up spot in the championship standings, Brandon kept his nose clean throughout the opening race on Saturday afternoon to cross the line sixth and reward himself with ten vital points.
With rivals Lawrence Davey and Luke Caudle failing to finish, Brandon needed to again stay clear of trouble for the second race on Sunday (14 September), but the Scot climbed to fifth after disposing off Rob Smith and set about chasing down Henry Duprey as the 29-car field bolted off the line and dipped down Paddock Hill Bend.
The top six broke away from the rest of the field and ran nose-to-tail, Brandon remaining in the thick of the action and making an opportunistic dive up the inside of Neil Newstead on the Grand Prix loop to promote himself to fourth and within touching distance of a podium finish.
Unfortunately, a tap bent his exhaust and reduced his car’s straightline performance in the dying laps, dropping him to sixth at the finish.
With a reversed grid, Brandon would conclude his 2014 MINI Challenge campaign on pole position and led the 29-car field through Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, before the race was cancelled due to a serious opening-lap collision involving several drivers at Graham Hill Bend.
“It has been an interesting weekend,” said Brandon. “We’ve been running inside the top six for much of the year, exceeding all expectations. Considering the level of competition on the grid, where you have previous Champions from various categories, we have had a great showing and built very stable foundations for the future.
“We went into this season with the aim of finishing inside the top six in the Drivers’ standings, and to be fifth is a great achievement for everybody involved. Excelr8 Motorsport has given me a great, reliable car that has finished every race. Now we’ll strip down the car and give her a bit of a refresh ahead of attacking next season.”