Panda Racing’s Brandon claims a podium on debut MINI Challenge outing

Panda Racing’s Hamish Brandon delivered a sensational podium finish in his Power Maxed MINI Challenge Championship debut at Donington Park (26-27 April).

Despite having only raced at Donington Park once prior to this weekend, Brandon was able to acquaint himself well with his newly acquired turbocharged Panda Racing with Excelr8 Motorsport R56 John Cooper Works (JCW) Mini and position himself an impressive sixth following Saturday’s qualifying.

The Hawick-based driver stormed to a points-paying position in Sunday’s third and final race after spending much of the nine-lap contest embroiled in a frantic battle with rival Lawrence Davey.

The two were quick to close up on the Cooper Class back-markers, but were unable to make a pass until the pair neared the Old Hairpin. Brandon looked to go round the outside of the slower competitor and moved out to the right signaling his intentions, but the slower Cooper also moved out to the right pushing Brandon wide and allowing Davey to slip past on the inside into third position.

While the overlapping of back-markers was taking place, an incident a few meters ahead warranted the appearance of the Safety Car, which was quickly in turn followed by a red flag bringing the session to an end.

Due to the red flag, race results were determined from the previous lap, meaning that Brandon held his podium position ahead of Davey, but as the cars returned to the pits, organisers assumed Davey was ahead of Brandon and awarded him the position on the podium.

Brandon was later handed the trophy once podiums procedures had come to a close.

A strong debut weekend has helped propel Brandon to fifth in the overall standings with 38-points.

“There was very little in it between third and sixth, so I’m very happy to qualify sixth considering it was my first time in the car under race conditions,” said Brandon. “The racing is more intense than last year as there is a lot more factors to take in. Overtaking the slower Cooper cars is one of the biggest factors, as you don’t want to lose too much time behind them and allow your rivals to close up.

“It was the first time I have raced in the new JCW car in wet conditions and was very impressed. The race pace was ok, a little off the race leaders, but I enjoy racing in the wet as it helps to level the playing field.

Branded added: “Excelr8 Motorsport have once again been fantastic all weekend! They have provided me with a brilliant car, which has allowed me to take away a lot of positives from the weekend. Hopefully I can carry the momentum forward to Brands Hatch in a few weeks time.”

The series now heads south to Kent’s famous Brands Hatch Indy circuit in two weeks time (10-11 May).

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