It was only revealed this week but the MINI Coupe is to compete in the 24-hour endurance race at The Green Hell, the feared Nurburgring-Nordschleife circuit in Germany, this weekend.
When BMW first relaunched the iconic British MINI brand back in 2002, everyone wanted to know what plans they had for motor racing, as the old Issigonis Mini exelled at almost every motorsport formula it entered. The MINI Challenge one-make series has been successful for some years now, but it seemed BMW lacked the confidence to pitch the MINI against its rivals in open, wheel to wheel racing.
Not any more. MINI will compete in the World Rally Championship for certain rounds this year ahead of a full onslaught in 2012. And now one of the toughest series production spec races out there, the Nurburgring 24-hour race, is in their sights with the newly revealed MINI John Cooper Works Coupe.
The JCW Coupe will be the most powerful of the series production cars when the new model goes on sale this autumn, but don’t expect to be able to buy what you see here. This is a pure one-off, designed only for this race — MINI has confirmed it won’t form the basis of next season’s Challenge cars even.
The interior is stripped and fitted with a roll cage, as you would expect, but retains the production car’s body. It also keeps the standard car’s tuned 1.6 turbo petrol engine, but output jumps from 208bhp to 250bhp in Nurburgring guise. Top speed is 150mph with some of that speed carried into the corners thanks to a downforce inducing — and very large — fixed rear wing, which replaces the pop up item on the road car. A sequential gearbox, integral pneumatic jacks (to lift the car automatically at pit stops) and race suspension complete the transformation.
The JCW Endurance is not scheduled to be used again beyond this weekend. The tamer production MINI Coupe goes in sale in October 2011 starting at a price £16,640.