After the heroics of the Dunlop Mini Seven challenge earlier, now it was the turn of the faster Dunlop Mini Miglia challenge to entertain the expectant crowd in their two races of the afternoon. The 300cc increase in engine power did not affect the close racing provided in both races, with the sizeable crowd enjoying all four of the Mini races at this Bank Holiday Monday Howard’s Day meeting.
Reigning champion Rupert Deeth secured pole position for the first of their two 10 lap races, with Mark Cowan alongside him in the famous ex-Peter Baldwin Mini. Kane Astin lined up 3rd with Dan Wheeler completing row two. At the start it was Deeth and Astin who made the best starts, whilst Cowan bogged down and dropped from the front row to mid pack by the time the charging pack reached Quarry.
From the off the lead battle developed with Deeth,Astin,Cowan and Aaron Smith initially fighting it out for the lead, although in the early laps the top eight were all fighting at the front, with constant jostling and changing positions amongst the pack as the looked to unseat Rupert Deeth for the lead. Going into the final laps it was Cowan who was on the move, first passing Aaron Smith for 3rd going up Avon Rise on lap 6, before passing Astin for 2nd at Bobbies later on in the lap.
Things soon got worse for Astin as he dropped another place on lap 8, losing 3rd to Sam Summerhayes, before regaining the final podium place with an audacious around the outside move at Camp on the penultimate lap. Despite facing immense pressure throughout the race, Rupert Deeth was just about able to hold everyone off to claim a narrow victory by only 0.055 thousands of a second over Mark Cowan. Kane Astin completed the podium after a hard fought race, with Sam Summerhayes coming home in 4th, Dan Wheeler and Colin Peacock completed the top six.
After the enthralling first race a similarly exciting second race was hoped for by many of the remaining spectators who stuck around until almost the end of the day to watch the second of their two Mini Miglia races. This time around the grid was slightly different with Mark Cowan on pole this time, sharing the front row with Kane Astin. Dan Wheeler lined up 3rd whilst race one winner Rupert Deeth had some work to do from 4th.
Once again at the start it was Rupert Deeth and Kane Astin who made the best getaways, whilst Mark Cowan once again fluffed his start and dropped well down the pack. Cowan was therefore looking to make up for his poor start as soon as possible, something which further hindered him as he spun off at Quarry on the opening lap, leaving him going from pole to back of the field in a quarter of a lap.
Back at the front and it was Wheeler and Astin who were challenging Deeth for the lead in the early laps, as a six car train developed behind them hoping they could unseat Deeth for top spot this time around. Their cause was helped immensely helped on lap 4 when it was announced that Deeth was being handed a 10 second penalty for a jumped start. It wasn’t something that had looked obvious at the start, although the officials clearly felt he had gained an advantage by jumping the start.
With Deeth’s chances of winning now looking impossible, Dan Wheeler now became the theoretical leader, despite Deeth slipstreaming past him for the actual lead on lap 7, as it now looked like the order would remain this way until the flag. Going into the final lap it was all change however, as Kane Astin stole the lead from Deeth going into Quarry, taking a lead he would keep until the chequered flag, with Dan Wheeler coming home a close second, whilst Sam Summerhayes completed the podium in 3rd. Mark Cowan provided a masterful recovery drive from his first lap errors to claim 4th, with David Drew and Phil Dale completing the top six.
Both races were a masterclass in how close, exciting racing from the always spectacular Mini Seven and Miglia grids, once again entertaining the spectators during the afternoon, with everyone I’m sure hoping the Mini series can return to Combe next year. For more information on this exciting series please visit their website here. http://www.mini7.co.uk/