MINI WRC Team officially launched

MINI WRC team launch

The MINI WRC Team was officially launched in Oxford overnight. To celebrate the occasion, one of the team’s works drivers, Kris Meeke, took to the Plant Oxford forecourt and performed a motorkhana display in his new MINI John Cooper Works WRC. Amateur video footage of that run can be seen below.

It’s all about development for the MINI WRC in 2011 and they will take part in a reduced program competing in just six of the 13 rallies on the WRC calendar. From 2012, though, the MINI WRC Team will be hoping the lessons learnt this year will allow them to challenge the established teams from Ford and Citroën. Meeke will be joined by Spanish rally ace Dani Sordo, so the driving roster should be up to the task at hand.

Rally Jordan takes place this weekend, then in early May, the MINI WRC will debut at Rally d’Italia in Sardinia.

David Richards, Chairman and Chief Executive, Prodrive Group, can’t wait for the team’s first race, “We have been working towards this moment for more than two years and it is truly exciting to be launching the MINI WRC Team and what I believe is the most stunning car in World Rallying, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. We have an experienced team, a talented driver pairing and, most importantly of all, a strong partnership with MINI. We are now eagerly looking forward to demonstrating the performance of the car on its debut in Sardinia in just a few weeks.”

More detail below from MINI motorsport, including a link to download the team’s full media kit. There’s over 30 pages of info to keep you interested. You can also keep abreast of MINI motorsport activities by checking out their website, which includes links to various social media.

[Thanks to Aaron for the video tip]


MINI refreshes local lineup

2011 MINI range

The faclefited MINI range is now on sale in Australia. It’s a pretty standard refresh with minor cosmetic changes, including front brake ducts, LED rear tail lights. MINI has also thrown a bit more fruit into the standard equipment, such as Bluetooth phone capability across the range. Mechanically, things are pretty much the same as before.

Full details, including pricing, can be found in the MINI Australia press release after the break.


MINI John Cooper Works image gallery

MINI John Cooper Works

As part of MINI’s mid-life refresh the John Cooper Works model has been adorned with a raft of cosmetic changes. The option of a Chili Red roof is the most obvious introduction.

The red theme continues inside, too, with contrast red stitching and red trim panels now available. Also included are anthracite dials for the dash and Lounge Leather seats with red piping. Back outside, the JCW’s Cross Spoke Challenge wheels can get a free coat of shiny black paint if you so desire.

Sadly, there’s nee no mechanical changes or increases to the 155kW from the current John Cooper Works model.

Here at AUSmotive we’re not so sure about the red roof. Take a look at the images after the jump and let us know what you think.


MINI plans updates for JCW

MINI JCW diffuser spy pic

US website Left Lane News has some great spy pics of a new MINI John Cooper Works prototype. It’s understood sales of the flagship JCW model have been below expectations and to help put things right MINI plans to make the model more attractive to buyers.

One angle MINI has chosen to tackle the issue is to give the bodywork a once over to make it more unique against the regular MINI range. You can see from the image above that there are plans for a rear diffuser which is heavily inspired by the MINI Challenge racecars. The camouflage also indicates changes to the side skirts and front end spoiler are also in the pipeline. It is expected this new aero-kit will be factory-fitted for MY11 JCW models.

MotoringFile expects power for the JCW to be up slightly to around 215bhp (160kW) with efficiency improvements of around 10%, as well. MF also tells us production is expected to start in September and the car will be on display at the Paris Motor Show in October.

There’s plenty of pics in the Left Lane News article, so make sure you check them out.

[Source: Left Lane News via MotoringFile]


MINI plans new GP and 50th anniversary models

MINI John Cooper Works GP

Leading MINI news website MotoringFile has revealed plans that MINI will be making two 50th anniversary models in 2010. Likely to be similar in specification to previous special editions, such as the Checkmate and Park Lane, the 50th anniversary MINIs will be available in unique, model specific colours.

However, in more exciting news to emerge from MotoringFile is their story that a new “GP” model is in the pipeline. The previous generation GP (pictured above) was limited to just 2000 models worldwide. It was the most powerful R53 MINI, with 216bhp, and went on a weight saving program on the way to producing the most hardcore model built on the R53 platform.

It is believed a new GP model “T-car” was spotted in the Plant Oxford assembly hall, with rear seats missing and stereo components removed. If the test car comes up trumps and MINI puts the car into full production expect it to be available at the end of the R56 model cycle, which is set to run until 2012.

Source: MotoringFile

Audi MINI Reviews

AUSmotive – Best Reviews 2008

From somewhat humble beginnings this blog started in March 2008. In that time I have enjoyed maintaining the site and keeping the information ticking over. Of course, the best parts to date have been the test drives. While I may not have been able to complete as many reviews as I would like, I have had a great time testing the cars I have been granted access to. Thanks to all who have assisted in this regard and special mentions must go to Jonathon from Audi Centre Canberra and Brad from Rolfe Classic MINI Garage for their generous cooperation and support.

So, with that preamble in mind, the three cars I have enjoyed testing most in 2008 are the Audi R8, the Audi RS6 Avant and the MINI John Cooper Works.

Audi R8 – “Mash your right foot to the floor and you’ll be creating smiles on a demographic far broader than Audi ever planned. While putting a grin on your face that has you giggling like a mischievous school boy.”

Audi RS6 Avant – “No car I have ever driven has given me the thrill the RS6 delivered. I’m loathe to make the cliched comparisons to sex, but, after handing back the keys yesterday afternoon, I had a smile on my face that lasted well into the night.”

MINI John Cooper Works – “The MINI John Cooper Works is a fantastic point to point weapon that keeps MINI at the forefront of the hot hatch category. There may be cheaper alternatives out there, but few can match the MINI’s cachet, and fewer still can match the John Cooper Works for driving thrills.”

MINI Challenge

Neil McFadyen wins the 2008 MINI CHALLENGE

MINI CHALLENGE - Round 8, Oran Park

According to the race results as published on the NatSoft website, Neil McFadyen in his Industrie MINI is the inaugural Australian MINI CHALLENGE champion.

By finishing Race 3 in 9th place McFadyen has done enough in the final race of the season to hold off the late season challenge from DecoRug’s Paul Stokell. Just! Race 3 saw a one-two finish for Team Bargwanna, with Jason taking line honours ahead of his cousin Scott.

More details and final points tallies, as they come to hand, to be provided in a complete Round 8 wrap up.

MINI Challenge

2008 MINI CHALLENGE – Round 8, Race 2

After two races at this weekend’s meeting, the 2008 Australian MINI CHALLENGE is still alive and will be decided in tomorrow’s final race of the year. Will it be DecoRug’s Paul Stokell, or will Indutsrie Clothing’s Neil McFadyen hold on to his current 51 point series lead?

With 60 points up for grabs for the win in race 3 at 9am tomorrow, Stokell needs a minor miracle to win the crown. Only a top two finish, with a McFadyen DNF will see him win the championship.

Sadly, there will be no television coverage of tomorrow’s race but this afternoon Race 2 was broadcast live on Channel 7. The first half of the race can be seen above, with the second half after the jump. Make sure you watch the second clip to see Justin Hemmes rolling the UBER-STAR car (more on Justin can be read in the Round 8 preview). Luckily, he walked away with nothing more than injured pride.

MINI Challenge

2008 MINI CHALLENGE – Round 7 wrap up

Last weekend’s MINI CHALLENGE racing at Tasmania’s Symmons Plains raceway had plenty of action at both ends of the field. Up front, former Tasmanian Paul Stokell had a dominant weekend winning all three races. However, at the back of the tightly packed field UBER-STAR driver Jason Akermanis got off to an eventful and rather embarrassing race debut by rolling his car on the warm up lap (see clip above).

Akermanis, often a human headline in the world of AFL, certainly attracted plenty of attention. Both he and Stuart Appleby had set solid qualifying times for Race 1, although both were starting from the rear of the grid. Appleby’s time was 1.3 seconds off pole, while ‘Aka’ was 1.5 seconds from the front. But Akermanis didn’t see any race action after his roll on the parade lap, although he did return for Sunday’s two races after a mammoth effort from the UBER-STAR team. The crew worked until 4am to have his car ready and to Akermanis’ credit he finished race 3 with his head held high, setting a best lap time of 1:03.7. His time compares well with the fastest lap from the race, of 1:02.9, set by former Bathurst winner Jason Bargwanna.

But it was Stokell creating all the headlines at the front of the pack, finally bringing an end to Bargwanna’s great run of consecutive victories by stringing together three of his own. Stokell’s success created the biggest impact on the series leader board as well, moving him into second position behind Neil McFadyen.

MINI Challenge

2008 MINI Challenge – Round 7 Preview

Australian MINI Challenge - Jason Akermanis & Stuart Appleby

Round 7 of the inaugural Australian MINI CHALLENGE series takes place in Tasmania this weekend at Symmons Plains, south of Launceston. The UBER-STAR CARS will be filled by Western Bulldogs AFL star, and 2001 Brownlow Medallist, Jason Akermanis and eight time PGA Tour event winner Stuart Appleby.

Akermanis will be making his motor racing debut and knows he faces a huge challenge, “I’m excited about the opportunity, for sure,” he said. “In many respects, lining up on the grid is totally different to being on the MCG in front of 90,000 screaming fans, but there are similarities between racing and AFL, too.

“Both sports are about passion and dedication. I don’t think anyone has ever questioned the passion that I bring to anything that I’ve done in the past and I’m approaching this exactly the same.”

Stuart Appleby, however, has embraced his need for speed through competing in Targa Tasmania the last few years and building an enviable garage full of exotica (including the world’s only BMW M5 ute), but climbing aboard the MINI Challenge UBER-STAR CAR is an altogether different proposition. “I have fond memories of competing in Tasmania through the Targa event, so to return with MINI Challenge is going to be an absolute thrill!” Appleby enthused.


MINI John Cooper Works – power and economy

MINI John Cooper Works

Most readers here will know AUSmotive is a fan of most things MINI, and the recently released John Cooper Works is no exception. When casting an eye over the spec sheet one thing that stands out is the combined fuel consumption figure of 6.9l/100km (40.9mpg). A nimble pocket rocket that is kind to the wallet and the planet. Well, within reason!

Sure, achieving such consumption figures can sometimes be counter productive to the JCW’s raison d’être. But this hasn’t stopped UK magazine Auto Express from seeing just how frugal the most powerful production MINI can be. They recently entered the the MINI John Cooper Works in a two-day economy run. The aim was simple, each car must have a crew of two and cover the 660km test route using as little fuel as possible.

So, how did they go? The overall consumption achieved was an indicated 49.4mpg (approx 5.7l/100km). Having owned an R53 MINI for some time now, I can say the on board computer’s reading is often on the optimistic side. Having said that, this is still mightily impressive result for the turbocharged MINI, even if you knock off around 10% for the generous computer reading.

It’s not surprising to see that MINI UK was keen to make the most of the result, with a spokesman commenting, “You’ve proved this model is the UK’s greenest hot hatch. We believe this makes the JCW ideal for drivers who want to downsize, reduce fuel costs and environmental impact, but still own a sporting car.”

Read the full report on the Auto Express website now.

(Thanks to Chris for the tip.)

MINI Random wallpapers

Random wallpaper: Team MINI at 2006 Targa Tasmania

Team MINI at 2006 Targa Tasmania

While trawling the press archives at AUSmotive I often stumble across some pretty cool images. Rather than keep them all to myself, I figured it would be nice to share a few from time to time. In the first of what will become a randomly updated series, I trust you enjoy this image taken from the 2006 Targa Tasmania. Click on the image above for a 2000x1320px version. Should you choose to use this as a wallpaper/desktop image that size should cover most monitor resolutions. If not let me know what size you need and I’ll see what I can do.