The glorious heritage of Mini in Motorsports
The brand of Mini has strong correlations with the Motorsport, both the classic model and the new MINI. The story almost begins in the early ’60s with the wins in Monte Carlo Rallies and continues up to the current days, with the wins in the last Dakar Rallies from the MINI Countryman.
The history of the Mini is synonymous with the Motorsports. As the John Cooper begin to develop faster Minis, the Cooper and Cooper ‘S’, the customers begin to race in rallies and races. The lightweight design of the car in conjunction with the great structural stiffness of the hull, and the quickness of the response to the steering changes made it perfect for racing.
The first competition the Mini entered was not a public competition but a private rivalry among motoring journalists, at the Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment, based at Chobham, UK. Monsieur Paul Frère, a Belgian, was the winner driving a Mini.
In 1960, the BMC management saw the potentials of the competitions, and create a group of three Minis to enter to the first International Event, the 1960 Monte Carlo Rally. The private entrants that drove those Minis didn’t manage to climb up to the results, finishing with places between 23rd and 73rd. Despite the fact that the results weren’t good, in the same year, Mini won its class in the Geneva Rally, the Alpine Rally and in 1961 the Tulip Rally.
In 1962, as the Mini Cooper came out in the market, Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom, sharing one won the Coupe des Dames in 1962 Monte Carlo Rally. The same pair won the Tulip Rally in the same year.
In 1964, with the Mini Cooper ‘S’ available in the market, Paddy Horpkirk and Herny Liddon won the Monte Carlo while driving one of them. One year later, in 1965, Timo Mäkinen and Paul Easter won the Monte Carlo, driving under impossible blizzard conditions.
The following year, 1966, one of the most famous Monte Carlo Rallies begun, with the Minis reaching the first, second and third place in the race. Due to changes to rules, the Minis were blocked due to the fact that the headlamps did not conform to homologation requirements, because they contained single-filament bulbs, while the rules required the auxiliary lamps to produce stronger light beams, so the victory went to Pauli Toivonen and Ensio Mikander driving a Citroën ID.
In 1967, Mini went back to wins, when Rauno Aaltonen and Henry Liddon won the Monte Carlo Rally driving a Mini Cooper S.
Over following the years, Mini entered in many races but there was not such a glorious win as the previous years. Despite that fact, Mini was meant to be remembered as a Motorsport Legend.
The New MINI in Motorsports
After the rebirth of the MINI, as a new Brand, the devotion to Motorsports came back. The MINI was back on track with the MINI Challenges. These Challenges are touring car races running in many places all over the world, for example Argentina, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Australia and the UK. The cars that are racing are MINI John Cooper Works Challenge, featuring an 1.6-litre inline four-cylinder engine fitted with a twin scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection. It is able to produce 155kW/211bhp and a maximum torque of 260Nm. For added safety a welded roll cage is featured.
Furthermore, MINI also takes part in World Rally Championship, with MINI John Cooper Works WRC which is based on MINI Countryman, featuring an 1.6L direct injection turbocharged inline four cylinder engine. MINI John Cooper Works WRC is constructed by Prodrive in Banbury, UK. The car came second in 2011 Rallye de France with the Dani Sordo as driver and Carlos Del Barrio as co-driver. The same pair came second in 2012 Monte Carlo Rally and won the 2012 Tour de Corse.
In addition, MINI runs also at the European and Global Rallycross Championships. In June 2013, Liam Doran won the X Games/ Global Rallycross in Munich, Germany, driving a MINI RX Rallycross, based on the MINI Countryman, modified also by Prodrive. The manufacturer already prepares the MINI RX Rallycross for the 2014 Championships.
The most remarkable achievements in the Motorsport History of the new MINI are the Dakar Rally wins. In 2012, Stéphane Peterhansel and France Jean-Paul Cottret won the Dakar Rally at the route Mar del Plata – Arica – Lima, driving a MINI All 4 Racing, constructed by X-raid team, based on MINI Countryman. The same pair with the same car also won the 2013 Dakar Rally, at the route Lima -Tucumán – Santiago.
Update: MINI wins Dakar 2014
In 18th of January 2014 the Dakar Rally was over with three MINI All 4 Racing were on the podium for the car category. Nani Roma from Spain as the driver and Michel Perin from France as co-driver finished first with a Total Time 50h 44m 58s. Stephane Peterhansel, the winner in 2012 and 2013, was second and he was also driving a MINI All 4 Racing. Finally, Nasser Al-Attiyah was third on the podium, completing the triad with another MINI All 4 Racing. All the three winning teams’ cars derive from the X-raid team and making the podium full of MINI All 4 Racing is the result of excellence of the work the team carries out.
The heritage of the Mini at the Motorsports is continued up to these days, with glorious wins of MINI in several rallies and races around the world. The future seems bright as the 2014 teams are getting ready for the new rallies and races.
I would like to thank Mrs. Jackie Irwin for the excellent tour in the premises of Prodrive during the Industrial Visit through the Global Leaders Programme of Coventry University, and Mr. Ben Sayer from Prodrive for his permission to use the picture of the 2014 MINI WRC John Cooper Works taken during this visit.
- Setright, L. (1999) Mini – The design icon of a generation, London: Virgin Publishing Ltd. Comments: Details for the Motorsport achievements of classic Mini.
- Garlitos, K.(2010) 2011 Mini All4 Racing [online] available from http://www.topspeed.com/cars/mini/2011-mini-all4-racing-ar101412.html [17 November 2013] Comments: Details about the MINI All4 Racing.
- Joseph, N. (2011) Mini rallies back to Monte Carlo with new Countryman WRC [online] available from http://www.autoblog.com/2011/02/03/mini-rallies-back-to-monte-carlo-with-new-countryman-wrc/ [17 November 2013] Comments: Details and images from the return of the MINI to Monte Carlo.
- Joseph, N.(2012) Mini changes tracks with Prodrive WRC team [online] available from http://www.autoblog.com/2012/02/07/mini-changes-tracks-with-prodrive-wrc-team/ [17 November 2013] Comments: Image gallery of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC constructed from Prodrive.
- MINI (2013) MINI Motorsports [online] available from http://www.minimotorsport.com [15 November 2013] Comments: The official website for the MINI Motorsports with various details for the Mini Motorsport Heritage and the current racing achievements of MINI in Dakar Rally, WRC and MINI Challenges.
- Prodrive (2013) Website [online] available from http://www.prodrive.com [18 November 2013] Comments: Various details about the MINIs modified from Prodrive for racing.
- Autosport (2013) Rallycross Mini wins on debut with Liam Doran [online] available from http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/108469 Comments: The win of MINI in a Rallycross event.
- The Grid (2008) 2008 Australian MINI CHALLENGE [online] available from http://www.thegrid.co.uk/Aussie%20Mini%20Challege%202008.htm [15 November 2013] Comments: Images from the 2008 Australian MINI Challenge. Images by Dirk Klynsmith.
- Sebastian (2013) Dakar 2013: Roma gewinnt Stage 5, Peterhansel baut Vorsprung aus [online] available from http://www.bimmertoday.de/2013/01/09/dakar-2013-x-raid-mini-roma-peterhansel-rallye-tag-5/rallye-dakar-2013-stage-5-x-raid-mini-all4-racing-01/ [17 November 2013] Comments: Image gallery of the MINI All4 Racingin 2013 Dakar Rally.
- Classic Vehicle Club of Volos (unknown) 1911 – 2011 100 years of Monte Carlo Rally [online] available from http://www.lekov.gr/encyclopedia_others_MonteCarlo_GR.html [15 November 2013] Comments: Images and historic details about the Monte Carlo Rally.
- Vijayenthiran, V. (2014) X-Raid’s Joan Roma Drives MINI ALL4 Racing To 2014 Dakar Rally Victory [online] available from http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1089784_x-raids-joan-roma-drives-mini-all4-racing-to-2014-dakar-rally-victory [22 January 2014] Comments: Details for the win of MINI All 4 Rarcing in 2014 Dakar Rally.
- Autosport (2014) Dakar: Nani Roma wins for X-raid Mini as Stephane Peterhansel slows [online] available from http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/112185 [22 January 2014] Comments: Details for the win of MINI All 4 Rarcing in 2014 Dakar Rally.
- Wikipedia (2013) Mini marque [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini_%28marque%29 [15 November 2013] Comments: The Motorsport History of Mini.
- Wikipedia (2013) Australian Mini Challenge [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Mini_Challenge [15 November 2013] Comments: Details about the Australian MINI Challenge.
- Wikipedia (2013) Dakar Rally [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dakar_Rally [16 November 2013] Comments: Details about the Dakar Rally, basically results through the years.
- Wikipedia (2013) MINI All 4 Racing [online] available from http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/MINI_All4_Racing [17 November 2013] Comments: Details about the MINI All4 Racing, in German.
- Wikipedia (2013) Monte Carlo Rally [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Carlo_Rally [15 November 2013] Comments: Details about the results of Monte Carlo Rally.
- Wikipedia (2013) 2011 Rallye de France [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Rallye_de_France [15 November 2013] Comments: Details about the results of 2011 Rally de France.
- Wikipedia (2013) 2012 Monte Carlo Rally [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Monte_Carlo_Rally [16 November 2013] Comments: Details about the results of 2012 Monte Carlo Rally.
- Wikipedia (2013) Tour de Corse [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_de_Corse [16 November 2013] Comments: Details about the results of the Rally Tour the Corse.
- Wikipedia (2013) Mini John Cooper Works WRC [online] available from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini_John_Cooper_Works_WRC [17 November 2013] Comments: Details about the MINI John Cooper Works WRC.