MINI Motorsports

MINI All4 crashes out of Dakar

MINI All4 Racing

Word has come through via twitter that the MINI Countryman All4 has crashed out of the 2011 Dakar Rally. Ironically the race-ending incident happened during a test run on the rest day.

Despite suffering technical problems on the first day of racing and dropping to 78th, the MINI had been making good progress since then and had consolidated a top ten outright position.

It’s understood that while driver Guerlain Chicherit was kept under observation following head trauma, he was not hospitalised and no major injury was suffered.

UPDATE: Picture of the crashed MINI added—look at the state of it—courtesy of the Stage 7 Dakar update (see below).

[via MotoringFile]


MINI WRC team signs Dani Sordo


Further good news for Prodrive’s MINI WRC program with word coming through overnight that they have signed Spanish ace Dani Sordo.

Speaking about his new contract Sordo said, “There has been a great deal of excitement surrounding MINI’s return to the WRC, so to be part of this new team is a fantastic opportunity for me.”

He will join British driver Kris Meeke who signed on last September. Full details after the break.


More ways to keep up to date with Dakar 2011

Carlos Sainz, Dakar 2011

If you want to keep up to date with Dakar 2011 here’s two methods you might consider. Firstly, the official Dakar Rally YouTube channel is posting daily highlights; clips from Stages 1 and 2 can be viewed right here after the break.

Those who prefer to sit on their couch can tune in to the SBS TV highlights show broadcast at 5:30 every afternoon (thanks to Tim for the tip). If that timing is not suitable for you, then fear not, you can watch the extended highlights at your leisure online via the SBS Dakar website.

Volkswagen also has a free Dakar 2011 App available on the Australian iTunes Store. There is an official Dakar 2011 App available, too, but only via the French iTunes Store and, of course, not it’s in English anyway.

MINI Challenge

BMW Australia withdraws support for MINI Challenge

MINI Challenge, Townsville

In disappointing, but perhaps unsurprising news, BMW Australia today announced the MINI Challenge series would not continue beyond the current season. Originally set up in 2008 with a five-year commitment commercial realities have influenced BMW Australia’s position.

MINI national manager, David Woollcott, explains, “Motorsport is becoming increasingly expensive and, together with a contraction in the television exposure, this has meant the race series has become financially unviable.

“MINI would also like to recognize the contribution of all those who participated in MINI Challenge including V8 Supercars, CAMS, our series sponsors Hertz and Pizza Capers and most of all, the teams and drivers who made MINI Challenge such a thrilling spectacle.”

This means the upcoming round on Sydney’s streets at Homebush (3–5 December) will be the last round for the series.

AUSmotive passes on its best wishes to the organisers (Toleman Motorsport), the team owners and all the drivers. Here’s hoping Homebush is a great celebration of a category that has provided some thrilling entertainment over the last three years.

MINI Safety Issues

MINI Countryman granted 5-star crash rating

MINI Countryman

The love it or hate it MINI Countryman now has one less reason to hate it. It’s performance at the latest round of Euro NCAP testing saw the not-so-MINI awarded a 5-star crash rating. The Countryman scored 84% for the Adult Occupant category, 83% for Child Occupant, 63% for Pedestrian and 71% for Safety Assist.

Interestingly the model tested was a right-hand drive Countryman Diesel, so these results are directly relevant to the Australian market. Most cars tested by Euro NCAP are left-hand drive.

You can read the full Euro NCAP report HERE. After the break you can watch video footage of the Countryman’s test, as well as reading the press release from MINI PR.

[Pic: Euro NCAP]


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.


VIDEO: Making of the MINI WRC

MINI Countryman WRC

After the jump you can see a brief “making of” video about the MINI Countryman WRC. Progress seems to have come along nicely following the official signing of documents with Prodrive in July. The MINI’s first race will take place in Italy next May.

Shame about super imposed type over the clip.

[Source: MotoringFile]

MINI Motor Shows WRC

Paris 2010: MINI WRC


MINI has just revealed its new Countryman-based WRC car in Paris. It looks pretty mean in that first pic, too. Will this be the coolest car in world rallying?

After the break you can see more pics, brief technical details and a couple of short interviews with Ian Roberston, Member of the Board of Management, Sales and Marketing BMW Group and David Richards, Prodrive Chairman.

Update 4 October: Extra pics from the Paris stand can be seen HERE.


MINI WRC prototype filmed in Portugal

MINI WRC prototype

Prodrive are are testing their new MINI WRC car in Portugal this week. Thankfully, some keen rally fans have been on hand to film the action. After the break you’ll see a selection of videos posted to YouTube which show, if nothing else, the turbocharged 1.6 litre engine sounds nuts as the car rips along the gravel roads. We can only hope, for the sake of the WRC, that Prodrive get this MINI thing right!


MINI to reveal new design concept ahead of Paris

MINI concept

The Paris Motor Show is just three weeks away now. As usual, manufacturers will begin filtering through news, teasing us about all the the fancy shiny products they will have on show. MINI, however, will be going one better by revealing whatever it is underneath these covers in an exclusive preview to be held in London on 23 September.

Even better, if you are a UK resident you could be there. Check out the MINI Facebook page for more details on that.

As to the car that might be under wraps, well, it’s a bit hard to tell really. It’s clearly not a Coupé Concept based model. The biggest hint appears to be given at the front. Take a look at the headlights. A little bit Countryman? Could it be a JCW Countryman, perhaps?

UPDATE 11 September: Hmm, perhaps that first image has thrown us off the scent. The Facebook page has been updated with a sketch that indicates it could be MINI’s first attempt at making a scooter. Yes, seriously! See MotoringFile for more.


MINI WRC team sign Kris Meeke, Gronholm could be next

Kris Meeke signs with MINI WRC

It has been reported that young UK rally driver Kris Meeke is the first to put pen to paper with the new MINI/Prodrive WRC team. Meeke, currently racing in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, would not confirm the signing saying only, “My focus remains on this year and winning rallies with Peugeot.”

However a source with links to Prodrive has said, “The deal with Kris is done. David Richards has talked a great deal about having a British driver and he’s been as good as his word.”

Meanwhile dual WRC champion Marcus Gronholm will be testing a MINI Countryman WRC prototype in Portugal this week which could result in him being the next major signing for the newest team in world rally.

The MINI WRC team will contest a reduced number of events in 2011 before taking on the WRC full-time in 2012.

[Source: Autosport | Thanks to Chris for the tip]


Want to buy a WRC car?

MINI/Prodrive WRC

As most readers will be aware MINI and Prodrive recently announced a new partnership which is set to produce lovely little WRC racecar offspring. So, if you reckon the MINI Countryman is not all bad, plus you have a spare £346K (AU$600K) burning a hole in your pocket and you know how to flick a Scandinavian, or something like that, then head on over to MotoringFile and download the official brochure.