Panda Racing’s Hamish Brandon concludes MINI Challenge career with fifth win

Hamish Brandon concluded the 2015 Power Maxed MINI Challenge and his MINI racing career with his fifth win of the year at Norfolk’s Snetterton circuit to finish runner-up in the Drivers’ standings (31 October – 1 November). 

Heading into the final weekend of the 2015 season, Brandon and his IN:MINI team knew they were mathematically in with a shot of snatching the title from Neil Newstead, but acknowledged they would need lady luck on their side to overhaul their rival.

Having stood atop the winners’ rostrum in the two most recent rounds of the MINI Challenge at Oulton Park and Donington Park, the Hawick, Scotland-domiciled racer has been in fine form and carried that momentum into qualifying by positioning his John Cooper Works (JCW) MINI on the front row during Saturday (31 October) morning’s qualifying.

A race win was on the cards for Brandon until the Scotsman damaged his steering by taking too much kerb and span onto Snetterton’s saturated grass, but the IN:MINI team quickly jumped onto the car and carried out overnight repairs to ready the car for the final two races of the season on Sunday (1 November).

Lining up in third position for the day’s first of two encounters, Brandon immediately became entangled in a race-long battle with his main rival, Newstead, as never more than four tenths separated them in the tussle for the runner-up spot throughout the seven-lap contest.

However, Brandon took up a position on the front row of the race three grid and surged into the lead at the start, before showing why he has been a title contender all season by pulling out a substantial gap to the rest of the field by the close of the opening tour.

As the laps counted down, Brandon built on his unassailable lead to close the weekend and the 2015 season with a fifth win and secure second in the Drivers’ standings, before turning the page and starting to write another chapter in his racing career.

“It was a good way to sign off my three years in the MINI Challenge,” said Brandon. “The championship was all done and dusted in the first race after my DNF, so I went into the two remaining races looking to have as much fun as possible and score two strong results. I was glued to the back of Neil Newstead’s car for the entirety of the second race, but just couldn’t find a way past. In the final race, I was determined to win and I got a strong start, taking the lead after getting a good run down towards the Bomb Hole. It was then a case of stretching the lead and bringing it home.

“Racing in the MINI Challenge has been great and has given me lots of experience. I’ve met some fantastic people and have thoroughly enjoyed this season. A huge thanks to everyone who has supported me and to the IN:MINI guys, who have been flawless all year in giving me a championship contending car.”

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