Panda Racing’s Brandon learns a lot from Brands Hatch

Panda Racing’s Hamish Brandon leaves Brands Hatch in a positive mindset after another successful outing in the Power Maxed MINI Challenge (11 May).  

The weekend’s qualifying session got underway in damp and greasy conditions, which were worsened by a deposit of oil on the track by the Dunlop Mini Se7en Championship earlier that morning.

Many drivers struggled for grip as they cautiously tiptoed around the 1.22mile Indy circuit, and in the dying few minutes, the sun broke through the clouds to leave a dry racing line.

Lap times begun to tumble and Brandon continued to improve with a succession of personal best times before the chequered flag fell and the Hawick-domiciled driver positioned his Excelr8 Motorsport-run JCW Mini ninth.

The weekend’s opening action, Round 4, did not get off to the best of starts for Brandon. Having initially climbed two places at Paddock Hill Bend, a spin at Graham Hill Bend demoted the Cooper graduate to the very back of the field.

Determined to make up lost ground, Hamish was quick to find his feet on the Pirelli slick tyres and consistently lapped a whole second faster than the race leaders.

His eye-opening pace saw him catch up quickly to the Cooper Class drivers and, having expressed his concern at passing them prior to the weekend, made light work in maneuvering past.

In the space of just two laps, Brandon had jumped from 19th to 12th and was clear of the Coopers, which allowed him to focus on making up places on the JCW class.

As the 20-minute event reached the halfway point, the Scottish driver continued to better his personal best lap and closing in on ninth-placed Alan Taylor.

Closing the gap by seven seconds in the space of three laps, Brandon was running nose-to-tail with Taylor with only three minutes on the clock remaining. Brandon kept a cool head and bided his time in making a move, which came at Clearways when he got a better exit and was able to propel himself down Brabham Straight and into his original starting position.

“It hasn’t been the best weekend in terms of results, but the Panda Racing team and I have learnt a lot and didn’t give up,” said Brandon. “I have found more pace in both the car and myself, which is giving me a massive confidence boost and I’m getting very close to running at the sharp end of the field.

“The MINI Festival had a great atmosphere! We placed a giant Panda in my car during the grid walk, which generated a lot of interest. Everyone was taking ‘selfies’ with the car and it was great to allow the fans and supporters to get up and close with the cars and drivers.

“Excelr8 Motorsport has again worked faultlessly all weekend. We will have a look at the data and find out where we can make up a few more tenths on the front runners for Snetterton, but overall I’m happy with how the weekend panned out.”

The Power Maxed MINI Challenge will resume in six weeks’ time on Norfolk’s Snetteron ‘300’ circuit (21-22 June).

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