|At 8 am, Dave leaves everyone to their
jobs and walks over to sign on at race control. Qualifying begins at 9.20 and there's
plenty still to be done in the garage. Tyre pressures are measured (26 front, 28 rear),
wheelnuts are torqued correctly, all fluids and fuel are topped up to the right levels and
the engine is run up for checking. With everybody happy, the car is off down the pit road
for scrutineering. At this level, no-one would dream of pulling a fast one, of course. But
the eagle eyed scrutineers still need to make sure no 'accidental' advantages are gained
and that all safety precautions have been adhered to.
With all the boxes ticked, it's back to the pits for last minute tweaks and
some mental preparation. "I don't really get nervous around the paddock," says
Dave. "When we're back home packing up, I worry about remembering everything and can
get a bit short. But then I'm fine right up until we're lining up by the track waiting for
the off." What happens next confirms this calmness and proves that Dave and his team
are very cool under pressure...
Qualifying begins well. From my vantage point at
Copse Corner, Dave seems to be up to speed and getting set for a good gridposition. As the
laps mount up, a time of 1:11.563 has Dave in provisional fifth, but then he disappears
from the group of cars rushing past. Uh-oh, what's up?
As I return to the garage it's clear something is
terribly wrong. All I can see is a mass of bodies flying from here and there and bits of
Mini front-end being removed with lightning speed. A polite cough gets Dave's attention.
"I think the cranks gone in it" he ventures. "We've got just under two
hours to get a new engine in before the race. We'll do it though." As I said, very
So I wander off, grab a nice cup of tea and a couple
of biscuits provided by Terry and chat to some of the other racers around with my fingers
Personally, I don't know how tempers remain so
restrained as a new engine is pulled from the rear of the camper and readied for service.
"He's not really one for chucking things around," says Terry. "And they're
all brilliant in these circumstances. It's part of the enjoyment." Yeah, sure.
£33,000 has been spent on Dave's Mini - awarded Best Turned Out Miglia in 2001
As an indication of the great camaraderie in this
racing class, fellow racers Lee and Les Jones both roll up their sleeves and dive in to
add to the blur of arms in the Mini's nether regions. Ordered chaos turns into blind panic
as the word goes out that the Miglia/7 race will start at 11.35 - 15 minutes early - and
my already huge admiration at TDK's mechanical prowess is surpassed when, at 11.33, the
black Mini fires into life in an empty paddock and screeches off towards the track. James
Bond couldn't have left in much closer - I hope all the bolts have been done up tight.
One of the best vantage points at Silverstone is
Luffield. From here the Minis can be seen shooting down the back straight and careering
round a sharp 180 curve before heading back to the start/finish line. And what brilliant
action there is too - watched by surprisingly few spectators, I might add. As a close
running spectacle, surely nothing can beat Mini racing. They're bumping and barging nose
to tail, and even nose to tail and tail to nose as several cars spin onto the grass. If
you want a great day out, get some Mini racing in your diary.
Commentary is by 2001 Miglia champion Dave Braggins,
who takes great delight in laying odds on Minimag's old friend Ralph 'Pitstop'
Saunders' chances of getting past lap three. Much to everyone's surprise, Ralph actually
finished the race in his best ever position - second in the 7s class. I won't mention that
this was mainly due to a massive shunt at Maggots which removed much of the opposition, eh
Back at the front, things are really going well for
my man Kimberley. leading, and looking comfortable, is Kelly Rogers, who has moved up into
Miglias from last years 7s Championship. But Dave is slowly making up places. When Kevin
Mason decides to switch to grasstracking, fourth is gained. Then a patient reeling in job
and an excellent bit of outbraking captures second at the expense of a battling Sarah
Munns and Jonathan Hudson. A best lap of 1:09.480 helps gain a touch on Rogers, But at the
end second place is the result. I'm pretty sure Dave's grinning from ear to ear under that
helmet, given the circumstances.
That smile is still present on the podium as it
loads of back slapping (along with a few sighs of relief). Back in the paddock, it's a
good couple of hours before people head off home. The Mini 7 Racing Club, to which all the
racers and many team members and spectators belong, is one of the friendliest Mini groups
around, So, many a hand is shaken and there numerous tales of what went wrong, or right,
told while packing up.
|It's been a long, eventful, but truly
enjoyable day as I said my goodbyes to team TDK and head back towards Gloucester in the Minimag
Mini Sprite. Of course, there's no truth in the rumour that said car was spotted later on
the A40 with a lunatic at the wheel, making brmmm brmmm noises and a very poor impression
of Murray Walker. Well OK, it was me, but that's because it's probably as close as my
financially-challenged life will ever get to emulating Dave Kimberley's exploits - unless
I can find a very generous benefactor that is.
After the four rounds of this year's Winter Series, Dave had three more
third places to add to his second place at Silverstone. These finishes were enough to gain
him third spot in the series overall, behind champion Kelly Rogers and runner-up John
Hudson. He celebrated this achievement at the last round at Brands hatch on November 25 -
To honour Dave's car being awarded the Best Turned
Out Miglia at the recent Mini 7 Club dinner dance, Corgi will be bringing out a Limited
Edition of the car later in the year. Mini Magazine will bring you details of how
to get one soon.