UK MINI Challenge
By now we all know and love the unique MINI and inevitably there will always be the temptation to go racing. When the all new MINI came along in 2001 there also came a racing series for them that has evolved over the years. The UK Mini Challenge series is going strong after 15 years and is due to kick off again in April 2016.
In 2015 the UK MINI Challenge ran three different classes to cater for all levels of budget and racing, and featured visits to seven of the UK’s best race tracks including the iconic Silverstone and Brands Hatch circuits.
|MINI Cooper||Nathan Harrison|
|MINI JCW||Neil Newstead|
|MINI F56||Charlie Butler-Henderson|
With the release of the 2001 MINI Cooper, now owned by BMW, came a factory endorsed set of aftermarket accessories put together by the private tuning house John Cooper Works – the JCW engine tuning kit, and the Clubsport package. Available only for the R50 MINI Cooper, these two kits together were aimed at the enthusiast who wanted to have some fun at hillclimbs and track days on the weekend but still be able to drive on the roads during the week. Thus the JCW Challenge formed.
After several seasons the R53 Cooper S was given the JCW treatment. The series became known as the MINI Challenge, focussing more on circuit racing. There were now multiple series across Europe with large fields and great racing.
With the release of the R56 came Australia’s chance to get a taste of the MINI Challenge. At the end of 2007 around 300 cars were built by BMW Motorsport in Germany. Based on the all new MINI Cooper S, they were fitted with a completely standard 215hp JCW engine (not released in the road cars until several years later) and the latest AP Racing brakes, KW suspension, and a full aerodynamic package. Around 30 cars debuted in 2008 and Australia was fortunate to host 3 years of racing as a support category to the V8 Supercars.
Now with the release of the truly purpose built F56 MINI Challenge race cars the first season is now complete. With modified race engines making over 270hp and an all new sequential gearbox the new F56 is now the pinnacle of the MINI Challenge series. After seven weekends of exciting racing in 2015, the series is looking as exciting as ever.