SILVERSTONE RACE REPORT
Max Bladon came away from Silverstone with a bittersweet feeling. On the sweet side the rising star cemented his second MINI CHALLENGE JCW victory of the season to establish himself in second in the points table. But bitter due to a contentious clash in a race one outing that promised much.
Max came into the two races at Silverstone, which mark the halfway point of the campaign, aiming to recover from an honest mistake last time out at Snetterton that cost him a likely race victory.
“The first fight of the weekend was to get my head together and move on from Snetterton, where I spun out of a solid lead in the last race,” said Max. “I had to put that behind me and move on, which is exactly what I did. Silverstone was a fresh start.
“It’s a track I really like and having done the Silverstone 24 Hours in Excelr8’s endurance MINI earlier this year I’ve done about nine hours around there this year, so I like to think I know it pretty well.”
Max made his point early on too, running at the top of the times during the early stages of qualifying before eventually sealing the third-fastest lap, Only championship leader Brett Smith and Rob Smith bettered him, both of whom benefited from a strong tow to set their times.
Max was confident ahead of race one, and made a strong start to hold third as he challenged Rob Smith for second place. Mark Wakefield made a move at Club corner to drop Max to fourth in the tight lead pack, but when Max tried to fight back a lap later Wakefield slammed the door shut.
Max looked odds-on for a top four place, before contact on his rear bumper from Charlie Butler-Henderson forced him wide at Brooklands on lap three, Max rejoined in sixth spot but kept his head to finish a fighting fifth and bag solid points.
“I wasn’t very impressed with Charlie’s move as he was tapping me right around the circuit and then that final contact just shoved me off,” said Max. “Aside from that the race was good fun. Mark put a good move on me and then closed the door when I tried to fight back, but that’s racing. The car felt good and we have the pace around here.”
Max’s off proved to be a bit of a blessing in disguise as he was drawn on the front row for the reversed grid second race. Starting alongside poleman Henry Neal, Max fitted two brand new Pirellis to the front of his JCW in an effort to find an advantage.
“I knew I had to make a move on Henry quickly and then try to get a gap,” said Max, who shot out of the blocks to pressure Neal off the line.
Going through the Maggotts-Becketts complex for the first time, Neal braked suddenly through the left-hander, catching Max off guard. The slight contact was enough to spin Neal off, handing Max the lead.
“I apologised to Henry afterwards as he’s a good mate and I’m not that sort of driver, but he honestly really caught me off guard as it’s not a point that you’d usually brake at but I think he was being a bit cautious on the first lap,” said Max.
With Max now out front, Rob Smith piled the pressure on, but a safety car was called when JM Littman crashed at Copse. After two laps under caution, Max got a good restart, only for the race to then be red-flagged for a car stranded on-track. Max was declared the winner.
“It’s not the way you’d want to win a race, it feels nowhere near as good as the first win at Rockingham because as a racing driver you always want to take the chequered flag,” said Max.
“But it’s still a win and it’s good for the championship. We’re at Brands Hatch Indy next, which has always been a strong track for me. The season now is about trying to stay in front of Brett Smith and claw back some of his points lead. With 30 cars around a 1.2-mile track, anything can happen.”