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TV Chef James Martin is the 2013 "Champion of the Mini Festival"

Sunday, June 23 2013

Celebrity chef James Martin took his first ever race win at the Brands Hatch Mini Festival today (Sunday), as he claimed the title of the "2013 Champion of the Mini Festival".

The 13 lap handicap race pitted new MINIs against classic Minis with a staggered start for the older cars (including James's) and it all came together in the last few corners for a brilliant finale. Martin was one of those granted a one lap head-start and he made it pay to ensure he tasted the winner's champagne for the first time.

He couldn't have been happier to take the win exactly one year after lining up on the grid for his first ever race. Speaking afterwards, Martin said: "I had no idea I was in the lead to be honest! All I could see was this pink Mini swarmed over me and all over the place but somehow I managed to pull away. I thought "I'm going as fast as I possibly can" but the faster cars were coming past me and I had no clue where I was!

"I got through early but then I didn't know who was going past so I just tried to keep ahead. They had me on the corners and I couldn't have done it any quicker around Paddock Hill, that's a scary place. But it was so much fun, though I'm absolutely exhausted!"

The win after competing in so few races has done nothing but add fuel to his passion for cars and racing, and it won't be long until James is back at Brands Hatch racing again.

"It's my seventh race I think or something like that, and driving these is amazing as you're just slipping and sliding everywhere."

Last year's Mini Festival at Brands Hatch was the scene of James Martin's racing debut but this weekend he took part in no fewer than five races in his immaculate Morris Cooper S.

Speaking earlier in the day Martin was already happy with the weekend's racing: "The weekend's been good. We had a good run out as soon as I'd got here after the show and it went pretty well. It's the second time the car has been out so we've had a few teething problems; it's a new engine and things like that. Everything's bedded in now though and on the whole it's been a successful weekend."

The win capped the "successful weekend" perfectly for the Saturday Kitchen host, and you can see his joy for yourself in this photo gallery.