The first video for the new MINI JCW

MINI JCW with Tony Hawk and Guerlain Chicherit

MINI is a brand that is a triumph of marketing. That’s been the case since BMW bought the British icon over a decade ago. More often than not MINI’s marketing has been very good. There’s been a lot of hits and not many misses.

Watch this video for the new JCW hatch, featuring skate guru Tony Hawk and ski/rally guru Guerlain Chicherit, and see if you think this is a hit or a miss.

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Fernando loves Ayrton, Jenson loves Alain

Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button announced as McLaren drivers for 2015

It’s now official, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will race for McLaren–Honda in 2015. Kevin Magnussen doesn’t totally miss out and will remain with McLaren in the role of reserve and test driver.

Reliving the glory days of the last time McLaren and Honda competed in Formula 1 Farnando Alonso has confirmed his love of Aytron Senna.

“I have never hidden my deep admiration for Ayrton Senna,” Alonso said. “My favourite driver, my idol on track, my reference.

“I still remember, as a kid, the posters in my wardrobe, my toy cars in which I dreamed I would one day emulate Ayrton, and the kart that my father built for my older sister, and that I ended up falling in love with. That kart had the livery of one of the most legendary partnerships in the history of Formula 1, McLaren-Honda, the car that Ayrton drove, the same partnership to which I am now honoured to join, to take part in the next Formula 1 world championship.

“I am joining this project with enormous enthusiasm and determination, knowing that it may require some time to achieve the results we are aiming for, which is no problem for me.”

Meanwhile Jenson Button said it was Alain Prost who inspired him to become a racing driver. And in doing so he just became a lot cooler.

“Like Fernando, I am certain that McLaren and Honda will achieve great things together,” Button said. “I feel sure that, working together, all of us will pull incredibly hard to create a brilliantly effective winning team.

“I admired Ayrton Senna enormously, but, for me, it was the exploits of his McLaren-Honda team-mate Alain Prost that inspired me most as a boy. The way he stroked those beautifully brutal red-and-white cars to grand prix wins and world championships was to my mind poetry in motion, and I have tried to emulate his driving style ever since.

“Being a part of new-look McLaren-Honda is a wonderful opportunity for all of us, and I am very pleased to have been invited to do my bit. In fact, I am absolutely raring to go.”

You can read the full statement from McLaren-Honda after the break.

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2015 MINI JCW details announced (official)

F56 MINI John Cooper Works

MINI UK has quickly responded to the overnight leak of information for the new John Cooper Works hatch by publishing a short press release. You can see that after the break, along with more 2560px images.

In side profile the new JCW looks pretty good and dare we say it, we’re even starting to soften our views on that god awful front body kit. A 2.0 litre engine knocking out 170kW/320Nm is nothing to sneeze at, even if we suspect it’s marketing reasons only from preventing the hottest MINI hatch from having more power to play with. And four-pot Brembo brakes are a nice touch too.

There’ll be more info in a few weeks when Detroit lights up and we’ll bring you up to speed then as well.

UPDATE #1: 15 page press kit now available for download (165kb PDF).
UPDATE #2: 11 new pics added below.

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2015 MINI JCW details leaked

F56 MINI John Cooper Works

Apparently MINI is not set to release details on its new John Cooper Works model until next week, but Australian media has reportedly led the way in giving the world an early look at what is the fastest MINI ever made.

Here’s the key stats:

  • 2.0 litre turbocharged engine
  • 170kW between 5200–6000rpm
  • 320Nm of torque, available from 1250–4800rpm
  • 0–100km/h in 6.1 seconds (6-speed auto)
  • 0–100km/h in 6.3 seconds (6-speed manual)
  • 6-speed manual transmission available
  • 1205kg (+15kg for auto)
  • Electronic diff lock
  • Increased track
  • 17″ alloys standard, 18″ optional

The F56 JCW will make its show debut in Detroit next January. Expect it to be on sale locally in late 2015.

[Source: Drive.com.au | Thanks to Andrew for the tip]

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Button v Magnussen: The final countdown

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

McLaren is expected to announce its 2015 driver pairing tonight (Australian time). We can all pencil in Fernando Alonso for one seat. But what about the other?

Button or Magnussen?
34-year-old or 22-year-old?
266 starts or 19 starts?
126 championship points or 55 points?
£12 million or £500,000?

These are the questions facing Ron Dennis and his board. It’s believed a decision has been made. We’ll just have to wait and see what it is.

[Source: BBC]

Renault Megane RS275 Trophy-R – Australian pricing

Renault Megane RS275 Trophy R

Renault is bringing the Megane RS275 to Australia and we’re getting a fair whack of the limited edition model, too. Out of the 250 to be sold worldwide, 50 will be coming down under—Australia is one of the highest selling markets for Megane hot hatches.

As the image above suggests this car has lapped the Nürburgring Norschleife in under 8 minutes and lays claim to being the fastest front-wheel drive production car around the famed track money can buy. And to buy it in Australia you’ll need 61,990 monies.

For those monies you’ll get one RS275 Trophy R, with its race-tuned Ohlins suspension, super sticky Michelin rubber, crackly Akrapovic exhaust system and the weight saving benefits of throwing out the rear seat. Yep, the Trophy R is an out and out two-seater.

Also included in the asking price is the Nürburgring Accessory Kit, of which a Brembo brake kit, lightweight lithium-ion battery and six-point harness belts are the most notable items.

Australian deliveries of the RS275 Trophy R are scheduled for January 2015, so best get down to your local Froggie dealer soon if you want to be one of the 50 coolest hot hatch kids on the block.

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It’s another Volkswagen interested in F1 rumour

Max Verstappen, FIA European Formula 3

Volkswagen entering Formula 1 is a story that’s been around for years—here’s one from 2001—and yet, so far, nothing has ever eventuated. Word from the BBC says the German giant is currently undertaking a feasibility study into a possible entry into the world’s biggest motorsport melodrama and that former Ferrari Team Principal and now Volkswagen Group employee Stefano Domenicali is calling the shots.

Like most other VW–F1 rumours there’s no real expectation for anything to turn this one into reality. And, fittingly, that seems largely due to a clash of egos. What else!

According to Eddie Jordan (no he’s not the ego involved here) Volkswagen boss Ferdinand Piech thinks Bernie Ecclestone is a bit of a tossbag and while both men hold their respective controlling roles there will be no Volkswagen entry in F1.

“The Volkswagen Audi Group is the second biggest car maker in the world and as such it needs to be in Formula 1,” Jordan declared. “But it will not enter it while the sport remains under the control of Bernie Ecclestone, who VAG boss Ferdinand Piech dislikes on a personal and professional basis.

“Martin Winterkorn, the chairman of the board of management of Volkswagen, is being groomed as Piech’s successor and he has always believed that F1 is a great platform for the group’s brands.

“I am told he privately believes VAG should be a part of F1. If VAG did come to F1, I believe it would be with their own team, with the car designed and made in Germany.”

Currently Volkswagen’s involvement with open wheel racing is limited to Formula 3. We can, in part, thank them for giving Daniel Ricciardo a pathway into F1. There’s a few other names on that list, too, including Max Verstappen, pictured above racing in the European F3 championship earlier this year.

The Volkswagen Group spends the majority of its motorsport cash on WRC, WEC (Audi and Porsche) and DTM (Audi). Any entry into F1 would likely end some or perhaps all of that high profile motorsport participation.

However, you might be surprised to learn outside estimates suggest VW spent €320 million on its DTM and sportscar programs this year, compared with a net outlay of €130 million for Mercedes, who swept the F1 world aside with a dominant season. In return the perceived advertising benefit for Mercedes has been valued at $2.8 billion in 2014 against a $30 million benefit for the DTM and WEC exposure gained by Volkswagen’s brands.

You’d reckon that’s enough to give Domenicali something to think about.

[Source: BBC]

2015 WEC calendar confirmed

2014 6 Hours of Bahrain

The 2015 WEC calendar has been published following ratification from the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

As with this year there will be eight races in all. However, the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo has been dropped and replaced with the 6 Hours of Nürburgring in late August.

The season will begin at Silverstone in April and finish in Bahrain in November. The flagship 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held on 13–14 June.

Next year will bring the added interest of Nissan joining the LMP1 fun alongside defending champions Toyota and fellow competitors Audi and Porsche.

Check out the calendar in full after the break.

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2015 WRC calendar confirmed

2014 WRC Rally Australia

The FIA World Motor Sport Council approved the 2015 WRC calendar last week.

As usual the WRC season starts with Rallye Monte Carlo, to be held on the last weekend in January. Rally Australia maintains its mid-September date and the 13-race calender ends in Great Britain in mid-November.

Check out the calendar in full after the break.

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