Bradley Gravett was left to wonder what might have been at Silverstone after a challenging weekend saw his hopes of a top-three finish in the end-of-season Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE standings all but extinguished.
Bradley went into the weekend on the back of a solid performance in the previous meeting at Knockhill, where a hat-trick of top-seven finishes had allowed him to move into the top five in the championship standings.
Eager to impress again around the high-speed Silverstone National layout, Bradley hit the track for Friday practice bidding to maintain his front-running form, but it would prove to be a tricky start to the weekend as the weather affected his planned programme and prevented him from setting a representative quick lap.
Twelfth fastest in FP1 as he worked to bed in brakes and tyres, Bradley then found himself at the bottom of the times in FP2 after a heavy rain shower as he prepared to leave the pits meant he was unable to set a fast lap.
Despite that, confidence was high going into qualifying, with Bradley securing ninth on the grid at the wheel of his EXCELR8 Motorsport-run car with a lap just half a second away from pole.
Unfortunately, however, the opening race would be over before it had even truly got underway, with a broken gearstick forcing him into the pits to retire at the end of the opening lap.
Consigned to the back of the grid for race two as a result, Bradley elected to gamble by switching to slick tyres on a wet but drying circuit at the start, although it would leave him struggling for grip in the early stages.
A mid-race spin at Copse after contact didn't help his chances of progressing up the order, with conditions only improving enough to suit his dry tyres in the closing stages. Setting the fastest lap on his penultimate tour, Bradley would take the flag back in 17th, although the six additional bonus points for the fastest lap meant his score from the race was the same as if he had taken the flag in P9.
Once again starting race three from the back, Bradley showed his pace in fine style with a storming start to proceedings that saw him rocket up into the top ten within three laps before he nipped ahead of newcomer Spencer Stevenson on lap six to move into ninth.
Clearing Dominic Wheatley and Joe Tanner allowed Bradley to move into the top seven before a small mistake going through Copse saw him lose the rear of the car and suffer a half spin, which undid some of his hard work and dropped him back down to eleventh.
Penalties for other drivers for exceeding track limits and on-track contact would promote Bradley back to eighth in the final result, with the points from the weekend leaving him seventh in the standings - less than ten points away from the top ten.
"On one hand, the weekend at Silverstone turned out to be a bit of a stinker, but on the other hand, there are some massive positives for me to take away from it," he said. "Snapping the gearstick on lap one of race one wasn't part of the plan, and it was even more of a shame because we'd made changes to the car after qualifying in a bid to find more speed and then didn't get the chance to benefit from it.
"Starting at the back in race two, it was worth a gamble on slick tyres, and by the end, we were on the right tyre, as I showed by setting the fastest lap for the first time. It just took a bit too long to dry out, but the bonus points we picked up for the fastest lap meant we probably scored as many as we would have done if we'd run wet tyres.
"The ongoing work to develop the car meant it was improved again in race three, and I just got my head down and pushed as hard as I could to make up places. Even with the half spin, I'm delighted with how it went because that is the first time I've been able to come through the field from the back like that on a genuine pace rather than because of issues for other people.
"For me, that's a massive plus point, and whilst the results on paper might not be what I was hoping for, it makes me feel confident that we can end the season on a high at Brands Hatch in 2 weeks."
Bradley Gravett is supported by GERKO, ThinkingitBetter, Ultimate Car Control, My Custom Workwear, Scalextric, Elite Vehicle Chargers, Flying TV, PolyChrome Studios, DriverAssist.ME, Bradbury Racing, Alexander James Interiors, Tesouro Timepiece, Crypto Saving Expert and Beatson's Building Supplies.