Panda Racing’s Hamish Brandon knocks MINI Challenge for six at Donington

Panda Racing IN:MINI’s Hamish Brandon extended his podium streak to six at Donington Park in the East Midlands after securing a lights-to-flag race win and runner-up finish in the Power Maxed MINI Challenge (19-20 September).   

With a more relaxed attitude for the remaining two meetings of the 2015 MINI Challenge UK season, in the knowledge that the title is practically out of reach, Brandon and his team headed to Donington Park seeking to have fun and secure as many race wins as possible.

Brandon completed eight tours of Donington Park’s Grand Prix configuration during Saturday (19 September) afternoon’s qualifying session, setting a best time of 1m47.571s to line-up on the front row for the first of two races the following day (20 September).

The Hawick, Scotland resident got the best of starts in the opening contest to take the lead of the John Cooper Works (JCW) class and he remained in the mix with several faster Gen-3 drivers throughout the opening tour.

Keeping his rivals at bay, Brandon, who enjoys racing on the fast-flowing Donington Park circuit, was looking comfortable, keen not to relinquish his lead as the championship leader, Neil Newstead, tried to pressure the Scotsman into a mistake.

The Panda Racing driver kept a cool head was able to pull away from the rest of the field to greet the chequered flag in first position, thus securing his fourth race victory of the season and a runner-up finish in the Drivers’ standings.

Starting in third position for the second and final race of the weekend, Brandon once again bolted off the line and moved up to second position by the close of the opening tour in search of a second consecutive race win.

Needing to maintain momentum through the Craner Curves, Brandon ran nose-to-tail with the championship leader, a handful of tenths separating them throughout most of the 12-lap contest.

With several Gen-3s getting in the mix of Brandon’s battle, it prevented him from mounting a serious challenge and he brought his IN:MINI-prepared car home in second position.

“It was a good weekend to come away with a race win and a second place finish,” said Brandon. “I was happy with qualifying, to have stuck it on the front row in second position and I was able to get a great start off the line to lead into Turn 1. I then set about building on that lead, as a number of Gen-3s went off on the opening lap. I got tangled up with a few of them during the race, which allowed the field to catch up, but once I was clear I then kept pulling away and crossed the line with a three-second gap.

“Starting third for Race 2, I again got a good start off the line and became tangled with some Gen-3 backmarkers, which allowed Neil Newstead to pull away. Once I was clear of them, I started to reel him back in. I halved the deficit to him at the chequered flag, but simply ran out of time. It was a great to get another win and extend this podium run to six and I cannot wait to get back in the brilliant car that IN:MINI have given me at Snetterton for the finale.”

The 2015 Power Maxed MINI Challenge season will conclude on Norfolk’s Snetterton ‘300’ circuit in six weeks’ time (31 October-1 November).

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