Lohen at Brands Hatch Time Attack Round 4

MINI Gen2 Cooper S John Cooper Works racing in Time Attack at Cadwell Park
20 June 2024
Lohen at Brands Hatch Time Attack Round 4

Time Attack Round 4. We'd been watching the weather forecast for Brands Hatch all week and it was finally predicting the sunshine we were hoping for, not that there was any sign of it in the Midlands as we packed up the stall and loaded the cars in the rain showers on Saturday ready for the convoy down to Kent. This time we were heading to the short challenging circuit of Brands Hatch to put Connor's self-built R56 to the test again, this time with a spare Turbo packed in the boot just in case (Read about that in the Round 3 write-up!

With a few new modifications since competing at Cadwell park last month and a dry race track at Brands, the target of getting into the 53’s was still plan A with 54.4 being Connor's previous best time at the track set last year in his MINI GPII.

At 10:55 the Pocket Rocket Time Attack class headed out for the fifteen minute warm-up session. The drift cars had just gone out laying down rubber in the corners and there had been a short rain shower just before the session began so the track was a little slippery in places but Connor felt the car was handling well and set a time in the 56’s despite early braking into the corners. A long brake pedal did however motivate an ABS and brake bleed after the session finished ready for the practice session in about an hour and 45 minutes time. 

After a full brake system bleed, the pit lane tannoy announced the start of the Pocket Rocket practice session imminently and Connor headed out again. On the out lap the brakes were now feeling good giving Connor the confidence to push and go for a hot lap. He fired the MINI down Brabham straight to cross the start line and towards Paddock Hill Bend at about 110 / 115mph. This is where unfortunately the day's racing came to a swift end. The brake pedal was rock solid and when the calipers did move, they completely locked the front end sending the R56 through the gravel and into the tyres. Red flags halted the session. 

Connor got out unharmed and the vehicle was taken back to the pits where the diagnostics began. After a quick look over the car, it appeared that there was no major crash damage, the gravel trap had done it's job and shaved off most of the MINI's speed taking only the new wooden splitter and and an undertray off in the process. The impact with the tyre wall damaged the crash bar and bumper plus the passenger side arch & headlamp. Nothing that couldn't have been repaired or replaced but the underlying cause of the crash was the issue that wrote off the day.

From a first look at the car, it appeared as though the braking problem must have been initiated by a faulty alternator. The alternator was over charging whilst the engine was running at high revs down the straight. This caused the ABS module to fail which affected braking ability at the pedal. To fully understand what happened, further investigation will be needed so the MINI R56 will occupy Connor's evenings this week and dominate the Lohen lunchtime conversations.

Not exactly a day that went to plan but certainly one that could have been a lot worse. A big thanks as always to the marshals at Brands Hatch this weekend keeping the wheels turning and the drivers safe. The car is back and already being repaired and prepared for Oulton Park where hopefully Connor will get a chance to compete without any technical issues holding him back. For now it's time to get the work done in the workshop but we'll all be heading up the road for the mid-summer meeting in Cheshire on the 20th of July.

Want to Race MINIs?

If you're one of us and have that desire to get out there on track then we know the feeling, being a spectator just isn't enough and maybe it's time to become a main player. Lohen can provide you with a custom-built competitive MINI Cooper S complete with full engine rebuild so that you can get out there and fight for the win. Fancy competing in Time Attack? We've built this Cooper S and it's ready waiting to go!

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