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Mini challenges convention - again

Major Mini: Challenge drives 154kW and 280Nm through a limited-slip diff.

Mini reveals the JCW Challenge - a wicked, racetrack-only Cooper hatch

15 Aug 2007

MINI has revealed the red-hot race car that will take to race tracks around Australia in a one-make series next year.

The Mini Challenge racer is based on the new Mini Cooper S hatch that was released in Australia this February, but has been substantially modified for racetrack work.

Mini will show its new racer for the first time at the Frankfurt motor show next month.

The Australian Mini Challenge is expected to kick-off early next year and could be a curtain-raiser at the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park from March 13-16.

Mini Australia is still working on the fine details of the Mini Challenge series.

It is not clear whether the Mini Challenge will be held in conjunction with other more prominent series such as the V8 Supercars.

Several teams have expressed interest in the Australian Mini Challenge, but have not yet signed up as they have been waiting for details of the cars.

39 center imageNow that the specification of the cars has been outlined, Mini Australia will talk more closely with interested teams.

Mini Australia spokesman Alexander Corne said the company would not reveal the price of the race cars publicly.

He said the Mini Challenge would be cost less to compete in that many other classes of motorsport, but would still not be cheap.

“It is an affordable form of motorsport, but it is all comparative,” he said.

Mr Corne said the response from potential teams and drivers has been strong.

“We are very pleased by the high level of interest,” he said.

The Mini Challenge car runs a John Cooper Works Performance-tuned turbocharged four-cylinder that pumps out 154kW, which is the same as the previous-generation supercharged model.

More importantly, the torque of the new BMW and PSA-developed engine is up 35Nm to a total of 280Nm.

In order to get all that grunt to the racetrack, Mini has fitted the car with a limited-slip differential. This should result in high corner exit speeds over the last model, which made do without an LSD.

The transmission is a six-speed manual, which, like the production car feeds the power to the front wheels.

While most cars are getting heavier with each generation, Mini has managed to shave 30kg off the weight of the previous race car for a lean total of 1150kg (a figure that includes the average expected weight of the driver).

That means the Mini Challenge racer can dash to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 240km/h, if the main straight is long enough.

Brakes have also been upgraded and are now so potent that it takes just 3.1 seconds (and 31 metres) to come to a dead stop from 100km/h.

The Mini Challenge is designed to allow driving talent to rise to the surface by offering a level playing field.

All the cars are identical and only the suspension is allowed to be altered.

The Mini Challenge models must all run the same specially developed KW Automotive dampers, but teams can adjust these to develop the best possible setting.

Mini has developed new light 17-inch alloy wheels and new racing tyres for the Challenge car.

It has also fitted the fastest Mini with an aggressive aerodynamic package including a huge rear wing and diffuser which it is says provides a lot of downforce at high speeds.

Safety features include a welded-in roll cage, six-point safety harness and Recaro bucket seat.

To help make the pit crew’s life a bit easier, the Mini Challenge cars come standard with on-board air jacks that raise the car off the ground to make pit-stops quicker and simpler.

The Australian Mini Challenge cars are produced as Mini Cooper Works cars in Oxford before being sent to Germany where they are turned into race cars.

Mini Challenge cars will not comply with several Australian Design Rules and will therefore not be able to be registered for road use.

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