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MINI John Cooper Works 24h Nürburgring - How this race is one of the toughest endurance races on Earth

MINI John Cooper Works 24h Nürburgring - How this race is one of the toughest endurance races on Earth | Paisley Autocare

Stuart Ross |

2022 John Cooper Works 24h Nürburgring

Diehard fans of the Nürburgring 24-hour race will be happy to know that this year marks the 50th edition of the high-speed showdown. The race, which is considered to be the ultimate endurance test for man and machine, will take place from 26 to 29 May on the 25.378 kilometre circuit consisting of the Grand Prix circuit and the legendary Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. This year, a MINI John Cooper Works will be competing in the race. The MINI John Cooper Works is a high-performance version of the MINI Hatch with a powerful four-cylinder turbocharged engine. It has a top speed of 235 km/h and can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds. With its agile handling and dynamic design, the MINI John Cooper Works is sure to be a crowd favourite at this year's Nürburgring 24-hour race.

The project was launched in September last year at Bulldog Racing, with the base vehicle being a MINI John Cooper Works. The 4-cylinder turbo engine is known from the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, and has a power output of 225 kW/306 hp with a maximum torque of 450 Nm. The 8-speed Steptronic gearbox integrated with a mechanical differential lock that has a locking effect of up to 70% ensures that there is no loss of drive torque, resulting in thrilling performance.


Racing modifications

In order to create a racing-ready John Cooper Works model, a number of modifications were made that go beyond class regulations. A racing cage was installed for safety purposes, and the fuel tank was increased to accommodate a longer race. To increase speed and performance, aerodynamic changes were made, including an adjustable rear wing, covered underbody, rear diffuser and front splitter. In order to reduce weight, light materials were used throughout the car, such as Makrolon window panes. Finally, a model-specific racing suspension was installed for a smoother ride. All of these changes work together to create a car that is built for speed and ready to take on the competition.


MINI in motorsport

Pat Moss made motorsport history in 1962, scoring the first international rally victory for MINI at the Tulip Rally. Her victory marked the beginning of the Classic Mini's unique success story in rally sport, with 3 overall Monte Carlo Rally wins in 1964 (Paddy Hopkirk), 1965 (Timo Mäkinen) and 1967 (Rauno Aaltonen). The Classic Mini was beloved for its lightweight design and go-kart handling, which made it a formidable competitor on the rally stage. Thanks to drivers like Pat Moss, the Classic Mini cemented its place in motorsport history as one of the most iconic and successful rally cars of all time.

The MINI John Cooper Works racing car "Made in Nürburg" pays homage to the racing tradition of the MINI brand in the classic colour scheme of the 1960s racing cars in red / white. This string of successes included six overall Dakar Rally victories in 2012 (Leonid Novitskiy), 2013 (Stéphane Peterhansel), 2014 (Nani Roma), 2015 (Nasser Al-Attiyah), 2020 (Carlos Sainz Sr.) and 2021 (Stéphane Peterhansel). The body of the car is made completely of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) and features an aerodynamically optimised design with a large rear wing. The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine delivers up to 315 hp. Thanks to its low weight of 1,100 kilograms, the car has a power-to-weight ratio of just 3.5 kg/hp. The MINI John Cooper Works Buggy is produced at the motorsport plant in Nürburg, Germany.

High-speed schedule

The upcoming 24h race at the Nürburgring is the highlight of the endurance racing calendar, and BMW is pulling out all the stops to ensure that their entry, the MINI John Cooper Works racing car, is ready to take on the grueling challenge. With only seven months to prepare, the team has its work cut out for it. In the coming weeks, they will put the car through its paces on the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring and at the BMW Group test centre in Miramas. The latter, located between Marseille and Avignon, offers a wide range of conditions that will allow for thorough testing and optimisation of the car's chassis. It's all hands on deck to get the MINI John Cooper Works racing car ready for the big day.

Friedhelm Thelen, Nürburgring expert and team boss of Bulldog Racing, knows how important comprehensive testing is before a race. "The 24-hour race at the Nürburgring puts all components of the vehicle under extreme stress," said Thelen. "That's why we're delighted to be able to use the BMW Group Test Centre to put the John Cooper Works through its paces there."

The BMW Group has been testing new models and innovative chassis technology at the Miramas test grounds since 1986. The driver line-up and the further race programme for 2022 will be announced at a later date. With the BMW Group Test Centre, Friedhelm Thelen and his team have access to one of the most modern test facilities in the world. "We can use the resources of the test centre to prepare our car optimally for the endurance test," said Thelen. "This gives us a big advantage over our competitors."