Image credits: © MINI.

MINI ÚK announces John Cooper Works Challenge, specifically developed for maximum track ability and on-road driving thrills
◾ÚK only model, limited production run, wîth each car numbered. Únique colour and specification combination
◾Inspired by the latest MINI Challenge racing car, wîth key technical features developed in partnership wîth the same suppliers involved wîth the race car
◾Adjustable suspension, high-grip Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, lightweight alloy wheels, limited slip differential, upgraded braking power, Genuine MINI JCW Pro Accessories
◾Based on the potent MINI John Cooper Works, featuring 231hp and a 153mph top speed
◾Premiere at Goodwood Festival of Speed, priced at £32,000 OTR

The new MINI Cooper John Cooper Works Challenge takes track-driving performance to a new level, while also offering a thrilling on-road driving experience that doesn't sacrifice everyday comforts and refinement.

Based on the ultimate performance MINI, the latest John Cooper Works Hatch, the Challenge takes more than just inspiration from the current Challenge-specification racing car.

The small, passionate development team, based at MINI Plant Oxford in the ÚK, worked in partnership wîth key suppliers on the racing car to deliver the best solutions for a genuinely credible trackday machine. With its super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, adjustable suspension and limited slip differential, the MINI John Cooper Works Challenge takes bespoke track performance to levels never before seen in the small hot hatch class.

Limited to a maximum of 100 units, the exclusive MINI John Cooper Works Challenge features a unique colour combination and graphics, Genuine MINI JCW Pro Accessories, and is available in one fixed specification only.

A home-grown performance hero, designed and developed in the ÚKThe basis for the new John Cooper Works Challenge is the MINI John Cooper Works Hatch, manufactured, like other MINI vehicles, at MINI Plant Oxford. It's there that a small group of MINI employees had a dream to create a MINI that was specifically designed and developed to excel on a racing circuit, while maintaining perfectly useable manners on the public road. They collected their ideas outside of work time, fuelled by the desire to create a car that truly unlocked the performance potential of the latest MINI Hatch on a racing circuit. Extensive testing was then carried out on a range of circuits throughout the ÚK, wîth considerable road mileage also accrued as the specification and settings of the car were fine-tuned.

MINI John Cooper Works Challenge came to life in 'Building 71', a non-descript unit at Plant Oxford that houses OX4 Racing, a racing team run exclusively by MINI employees. It can therefore be said that the new MINI John Cooper Works Challenge is truly a 'works' car for the track, in the finest tradition.

High performance starting point: the MINI John Cooper Works Hatch


The new MINI John Cooper Works Challenge uses the latest MINI John Cooper Works Hatch as its basis – itself the most potent MINI ever produced. Powered by a 2-litre four-cylinder engine featuring MINI TwinPower Turbo technology, model-specific design of the pistons, turbocharger and exhaust release 231hp and 320nm of torque. These prodigious outputs enable a 0-62mph time of just 6.3-seconds, wîth a top speed of 153mph. Nevertheless, when fitted wîth a six-speed manual gearbox (the only gearbox option available for John Cooper Works Challenge), John Cooper Works manages a remarkable 42.2mpg, wîth C02 emissions of just 155g/km.

MINI John Cooper Works Challenge is readily identifiable by its bespoke body addenda, including enlarged air intakes at the front for increased cooling, uniquely contoured wheel arch extensions and a rear spoiler. Inside, John Cooper Works sports seats and sports §teering wheel create the perfect environment for driving enjoyment.

Bespoke tuning parts for the ultimate road and track performance

The standard MINI John Cooper Works is a formidable performance car on road and track, but the John Cooper Works Challenge's small engineering team knew that it could be taken further still if on-track ability was prioritised to a greater degree. Realising that John Cooper Works Hatch's exceptional, and moreover reliable and fully warrantied, power output was already ample, they concentrated their efforts in the areas of chassis, tyres and braking.

Many road cars are said to be 'inspired by the world of motor racing', but the link wîth John Cooper Works Challenge is a more genuine one than most: the engineers turned to Nitron for the suspension, Mintex for the braking requirements, Quaife for the traction benefits of a limited slip differential and Team Dynamics for particularly lightweight alloy wheels. All these brands supply the MINI John Cooper Works racing car that competes in the top class of the ÚK MINI Challenge.

Chassis: tuned on road and track

Not only were the team searching for ultimate track performance, but MINI John Cooper Works Challenge was also to be a car that rewarded enthusiast drivers on the public road, while maintaining everyday usability. To that end, it seemed imperative that John Cooper Works Challenge featured a suspension that could be adjusted by the driver to the environment in which the car was being driven.

ÚK-based suspension supplier Nitron has provided coilover spring and damper units based on its NTR R1 system. These are adjustable for bump and rebound, as well as for overall ride height. The R1 is a direct development of the racing dampers used on the John Cooper Works racing car, and is hand-built wîth many titanium and hard-anodised parts to the very highest quality standards. ( posted on conceptcarz.com) Camber adjustment plates on the front axle allow for an increase in negative camber, wîth John Cooper Works Challenge possessing two degrees of negative camber on both the front and rear axle. Thanks to both camber and castor being adjustable, the suspension geometry of the new car is significantly different to that of the standard car. MINI John Cooper Works Challenge is supplied wîth recommended settings for both road and track driving, the damper units offering adjustment through numerous 'clicks', but owners can choose to experiment wîth their own settings to tune the car precisely to their own tastes.

For superior traction when powering out of corners, John Cooper Works Challenge is fitted wîth a Quaife automatic torque biasing (ATB) limited slip differential in place of the standard car's open item. This proven component, which uses helical gears instead of a plate-type LSD, offers a seamless operation without any abrupt 'lock up', and assists braking performance as well as transferring power away from a spinning front wheel during acceleration. The Quaife ATB differential works in combination wîth all standard fit electronic systems (DSC, Performance Control, etc).

Wheels and tyres: more grip, less weight

Few aspects of a car affect track performance more than tyres, and the John Cooper Works Challenge engineering team spent a lot of time during the development process testing different makes and compounds to find not only a tyre that gave the most grip on a circuit, but one that also worked well on the road.

The solution was the acclaimed Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, original equipment for a host of high-performance cars, and uniquely able to summon extremely high grip levels without causing any refinement issues.

MINI John Cooper Works Challenge retains the 17' wheel size of the standard John Cooper Works Hatch, but features 215/45 R17 tyres on a 7.5' wheel, 0.5' wider than the original specification rim that uses a 205/45 R17. The wheels are also specifically chosen for ultimate performance: the Team Dynamics Pro Race 1.2 rims save 1.5kg of unsprung mass per corner. Combined wîth the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, this weight advantage further increases to 2.5kg per corner.

Braking: greater reserves of retardation

John Cooper Works Challenge employs grooved and part-drilled 330mm front discs wîth four-pot Brembo-developed calipers, sourced from the MINI JCW Pro Accessories range. These are paired wîth specially developed Mintex brake pads. This combination offers superb braking power wîth excellent resistance to fade on track. Even so, no compromise wîth on-road braking response has been required, even when used from cold.

John Cooper Works Accessories fitted as standard

The new John Cooper Works Challenge takes full advantage of the MINI JCW Pro Accessories already available for John Cooper Works Hatch.

The JCW Pro Aerokit, which features lower front splitters, rear spoiler add-ons for the already large roof spoiler, rear diffuser and rear splitters for additional aerodynamic performance, enhances the already distinctive, aggressive exterior styling. The carbon fibre air intake further complements enhances the look of this new model, as do the Carbon Fibre Mirror Covers.

A JCW Pro exhaust wîth carbon fibre tailpipe finishers not only maximises the flow of spent gases, but also gives John Cooper Works Challenge a purposeful roar. It can be controlled via a Bluetooth link, offering a choice of Sport and Track sound levels.

The grooved brake discs are also taken from the JCW Pro Accessories range, although the Mintex pads fitted to the Challenge are unique to this model.

Únique specification

MINI John Cooper Works Challenge will be built in no more than 100 units, and is available wîth one fixed specification and exclusively wîth MINI's acclaimed 6-speed manual gearbox.

Every John Cooper Works Challenge is painted in White Silver, can be readily identifiable by a bespoke graphics package, and has the 17' alloy wheels finished in black. Black roof and mirror caps complete this unique style.

Inside, the Dinamica/cloth interior combination is also finished in Carbon Black. The passenger side facia of each car bears its unique build number in the series, testament to the exclusivity of this unique model. The standard specification includes Piano Black interior trim, rear Park Distance Control, Rain Sensor wîth Auto headlight activation and Adaptive LED headlights. No amendments to the standard specification are possible, and the OTR price is £32,000.

MINI John Cooper Works Challenge will be unveiled to the public for the first time on the MINI stand at Goodwood Festival of Speed, 23rd to 26th June, and is available to order at MINI retailers across the ÚK now.

The MINI Challenge:

The MINI Challenge has provided the best MINI racing in the ÚK since 2002, and is part of a family of racing championships run across Europe. For 2016, the ÚK MINI Challenge is split into three classes, offering incredibly close racing to drivers on a wide spread of budgets.

The top class features the current John Cooper Works racing car, best described as a 'MINI-touring car'. With up to 255bhp and a six-speed sequential gearbox, these are the ultimate racing MINI models.

The Cooper S class is for previous generation (2006-2014) 1.6-litre Turbo cars built to Challenge specification, while the entry-level Cooper Class features normally aspirated first generation MINI models (2001-2006) and is ideal for those starting out in circuit racing. An Open Class has also been inaugurated for MINIs outside of these three classes.

The MINI Challenge is fought out over eight rounds including a meeting on the picturesque Brands Hatch Grand Prix track.

Source - MINI
The British Motor Corporation came into existence in 1952 by the merging of two manufacturers, Nuffield Motors and Austin. Nuffield was known for its Morris line of vehicles, while Austin had its 'Seven' model line. The transition for the two manufacturers was difficult and had been forced out of necessity. After World War II, many vehicle manufacturers could not stay in business due to destroyed factories, recovering economies, strained resources, and lack of funds. Combining the two companies was a means to stay in business.

A fuel shortage was occurring. German engineers quickly adapted and began producing fuel-efficient vehicles. Examples include the Volkswagen Beetle. Leonard Lord, Chairman of BMC and former head of Austin, commissioned Sir Alec Issigonis to design a vehicle to compete with the German-made vehicles.

Alec Issigonis was a graduate of Battersea Technical College. After graduation he worked as a draftsman for a plethora of engineering projects. Later, he joined Morris Motors where he was tasked with creating and fitting suspensions to the Morris vehicles.

Issigonis was outfitted with requirements to create a fuel-efficient, affordable, safe vehicle capable of carrying four individuals including luggage. To save on development costs, it was requested that an existing BMC engine be used. What he created was a vehicle that sat atop of 10 inch wheels. By using smaller wheels there was little need for wheel wells.

The car was expected to carry four individuals; the combined weight of the passengers being greater than the entire vehicle. A suspension was needed that could accept this pay-load. With his prior experience creating and working with suspensions, Issigonis designed a rubber cone suspension.

A 950 cc, four cylinder, BMC engine was selected. It was mounted in the front and expected to power the front wheels, a system that was revolutionary at the time. Instead of mounting the engine longitudinally, it was place transversely. The transmission was place under the engine due to space constraints.

When Issigonis presented his designs and recommendations to Lord in 1958, changes were requested. Instead of the 950 cc engine, a 34 horsepower, 848 cc engine would be used, making the vehicle slower but more importantly, more safe. The other request was to make the vehicle two inches wider.

There were two versions of the car when it was first introduced on August 26, 1959. The only difference between the 1959 Austin and Morris versions was their badges.

John Cooper had designed vehicles that successfully won the Formula One championships in 1959 and 1960.

He proposed a marriage between his 1000 cc Formula Junior engine with the Mini. Lord approved the idea and in 1961 the Mini Cooper was born. It was fitted with a 997 cc engine producing 55 horsepower. Later, the Cooper S came into being with the advent of the 970 cc and the 1275 cc engine - the latter capable of 76 horsepower.

From 1964 through 1967 the little car dominated the Monte Carlo Rally. The car easily achieved these victories using a 91 horsepower engine.

Minis became more than just a practical car, they became a fashion statement. This, combined with their practicality, fuel efficiency, and success on the race track, created an overwhelming demand for the little car.

In the 1980's, the Mini was starting to loose momentum. Rover tried to revitalize the Mini brand by creating special editions. In all, there were more than 40 different editions created between 1980 and 2000.

A merger with British Motor Corporation and another company produced the Britsh Leyland Company. Later, it became Rover Group. Currently, it is owned by BMW.

In 2001, BMW introduced the MINI. The MINI currently has three Cooper models. Their main differences being the size of the engine and the horsepower rating. A convertible has also been included to the line-up.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007

Three generations of driving fun: The MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper S through the years.

For three generations and over 50 years, the Cooper name has identified a MINI offering even more in the way of driving fun. The idea, hatched by brilliant Formula One designer John Cooper, to fuel the agile small car wîth an extra hit of performance and turn it into a sporting machine for the road and track has lost none of its appeal. But the Cooper has never been about horsepower, as a comparison between the classic Mini and its two successors resoundingly proves. The key here is the basic principle of the creative use of space, combined wîth the inimitable go-kart feeling that runs like a thread through the three generations of the legendary small car. These famous handling traits are enjoyed by drivers on bendy country roads and city streets around the world, wîth the classic Mini and 21st-century MINI still regularly crossing each other's path.

The small British car positively craves twists and turns demanding quick and precise changes in direction; this is where it feels most at home. The classic Mini was tailor-made for tackling hairpins and corner-strewn roads, and it still looks the part today – aided by the healthy 46 kW/63 hp available in a Mini Cooper towards the end of its production run. The classic Cooper was built up to autumn 2000, by which time its successor was already twitching in the starting blocks. In contrast to the original Mini, the new model was available in Cooper guise from the outset. And wîth 85 kW/115 hp under the bonnet, it would do its nameplate proud. From the word go, the car's powerplant and chassis formed a harmonious alliance to deliver unbeatable driving fun. As John Cooper realised, sometimes you actually can't have too much of a good thing. 50 years ago he unveiled the 70 hp Mini Cooper S. And today, its youngest descendant places 135 kW/184 hp at the disposal of its driver. As if that wasn't enough, the turbocharged engine powering the latest MINI Cooper S also sets the benchmark for efficiency in its output class.

When Alec Issigonis set out to develop a new small car for the British Motor Corporation in the mid-1950s, his priorities were space and price. Indeed, at a touch over three metres in length, the classic Mini offered astonishingly generous accommodation for passengers and their gear alike. Issigonis settled on a front transverse installation for the four-cylinder engine, under which lay the gearbox, plumb between the wheels. The positioning of those wheels at the far corners of the car and the Mini's short overhangs did the rest. The Mini was small on the outside but roomy on the inside, not to mention – at around 600 kilograms – extremely light. The principles underpinning its design remain the template for small and compact cars in the modern era.

However, it was left to another key figure in the brand's history to uncover the vast well of sporting talent under that diminutive shell. John Cooper, a friend and business partner of Mini creator Issigonis and winner of two Formula One constructors' world titles, was quick to spot the car's dynamic potential, and in 1961 the first Mini Cooper hit the roads. Production of the Cooper was temporarily suspended in the 1970s, but by that time the Mini Cooper badge had long since become the signature of a sporty and agile small car.

As well as the intervention of John Cooper, the launch of this famous sporting career also relied on the brilliance of the classic Mini's chassis. Issigonis had broken new ground wîth the §teering and suspension of his new creation, and in so doing laid the foundations for the go-kart feeling appreciated by drivers to this day. Homokinetic joints reduced torque steer, a subframe (to which the rear wheels were fixed) improved directional stability, and rubber springs and small telescopic dampers ensured accurate responses and progressive spring action. The wealth of ideas packed into this small car still impresses. And the result of those ideas – the classic Mini's much-celebrated handling – explains why the car continues to enjoy such a loyal community of fans. When the successor to the original car came along in 2001, it was clear that highly advanced chassis technology would be needed in order to set the pace in driving fun all over again. The MINI Cooper rose to the challenge in some style, thanks to MacPherson spring struts at the front axle, axle shafts equal in length, a multi-link rear axle unique in the small car §egmènt, disc brakes on all four wheels, and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control).

The latest-generation MINI Cooper S also features Electric Power Steering wîth Servotronic function and a DSC system including DTC (Dynamic Traction Control) and an electronic locking function for the front axle differential. Known as Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC), this system gives the MINI a crucial edge through the tight bends of Alpine passes, for example, by braking a spinning wheel as required to enhance drive out of corners as well as the car's §teering properties. Added to which, pressing the standard Sport Button in the MINI Cooper S makes the §teering even more direct and stirs up a particularly sporty soundtrack from the engine. All of this was unimaginable 50 years ago, of course, but you get the impression John Cooper would have wholeheartedly approved.

Source - BMW
 
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