Mini Tackles 2006 Targa Tasmania
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27th April, 2006
Mini is returning to motor sport with a three-car team backed by Mini Australia.
The first major event to be tackled by the fledgling Team Mini is Targa Tasmania.
The cars are identical 154 kW Mini Cooper S hardtops equipped with factory fitted John Cooper Works Tuning Kits. Both brake packages and suspension have been upgraded to the Mini Challenge specification.
In the tradition of competitive Minis, the 2006 entrants are finished in Chilli Red with White roofs.
On arrival in Australia the cars were spirited away to Sydney to be fitted out with racing safety gear and modifications to make the cars rally ready.
Spurring Team Mini on is the knowledge that a very similar vehicle won the Targa Tasmania-inspired Canadian ‘Targa Newfoundland Rally’ outright last September, beating vehicles with far more horsepower and twice as many cylinders.
Australia’s Team Mini will also contest a variety of competitive events from regularity runs to classic rallies during 2006. A circuit race before the end of the year should not be ruled out.
Mini has chosen 2006 for its to return to competition for a good reason.
In 1966, the mighty Mini Cooper S won Bathurst and filled the top nine places. A feat that remains unbeaten in 40 years. Since 1966, no naturally-aspirated four-cylinder vehicle has won the race either.
“Mini is delighted to be returning to motor sport in Australia,” said Justin Hocevar, National Manager, Mini. “It is especially fitting that we celebrate 40 years since arguably the most dominant victory ever at Bathurst, where Mini Cooper S cars filled the first nine places.
“Kicking off our 2006 motor sport campaign at Targa Tasmania is a perfect fit for the feisty nature of the modern Mini Cooper S. Just as at Bathurst in 1966, we will be up against some of the giants of international motor sport, but you can be sure Mini will pour its heart and soul into the effort, not to mention a dash of its typically cheekiness to spice things up. As usual, we expect big things from Team Mini,” said Justin.
The Team Mini entries will be piloted and navigated by a diverse array of drivers, which is likely to change from event to event. Spectators can be assured of one thing; Team Mini will deliver plenty of reasons to cheer all season long.
Team Mini will contest the remaining Alphera Dutton tarmac rallies in New South Wales (June) Queensland (July) and Victoria (September), the Speed on Tweed event in September, Targa West in WA, rounds of the Australian Production Car Championship in September and October, the Indy Rally in Queensland and the Winton 6-Hour relay event.
Team Mini will be operated by David Vervaart of Tasman Automotive Marketing.
TEAM Mini - The Cars Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works Tuning Kit
To turn the standard Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works Tuning Kit enhancement into a winning - but still street-legal - competition car involves plenty of effort.
It may look like a standard Mini Cooper S on the outside, but there are many bolt-on optional parts, plus a few specially made components added on the inside.
First is the specially-made chrome-moly roll-cage, made to FIA Group N specification by Bonds in Sydney. To fit it, the interior of the Mini is stripped – glass is removed, along with the roof-lining, seats and carpets. Once the cage has been welded into place, the car is repainted and the interior is rebuilt.
The standard Mini internal door trims, glass in the electric windows and mirrors are refitted.
The roll-cages, designed specifically for the three local cars, meet requirements laid down by the governing body of international motorsport, the FIA, and are intended to protect the crew in the event of a collision – enhancing the legendary designed in safety of the Mini with its immensely rigid body shell.
During the reconstruction process, the rear seat, roof-lining, carpets and sound-deadening material are not replaced, and two special carbon-fibre/Kevlar Cobra seats are bolted solidly to the floor.
The navigator’s seat sits as low down as possible and is set further back than the driver’s, to provide optimum weight distribution.
The driver gets a false floor, while the navigator gets an adjustable brace-bar.
The standard Mini inertia-reel safety belts make way for FIA-approved 6-way SABELT safety-harnesses, using 75mm wide webbing, for both driver and navigator.
The standard Mini steering wheel is replaced by an Italian Sportsline 330mm item, but the instruments from the original Mini Cooper S are retained – using the Australian placement of a central rev-counter with the speedometer in front of the driver.
The only additional instruments are a map-reading light and Terratrip 303 trip computer for the navigator.
A Stilo World Rally-specification two-way intercom allows the crew to communicate clearly – and picks up audio for the in-car camera.
A separate two-way radio allows the Mini crew to stay in contact with their service vehicles.
While the air-conditioners are removed, the heaters are retained – and in the unlikely event of things going very wrong, there’s a 1 kg regulation fire-extinguisher under each seat.
Naturally, both driver and navigator are required to wear FIA approved triple-layer flame-resistant overalls and HANS devices.
Under the bonnet, remarkably little has been done to bolster the performance of the standard Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works Tuning Kit – the engine remains unmodified and the John Cooper Works engine control unit is capable of making the most of the higher-octane fuel used for racing.
The mid-section of the road-going exhaust is replaced with a freer-flowing item used on the Mini Challenge racing cars, which is complemented by a tuned muffler. Some - but not all - of the Mini engine mountings are replaced with competition-spec items.
The standard Mini Cooper S six-speed manual gearbox and regular clutch are retained, but a competition-specification ABS brake control unit is fitted.
Body modifications are also minor - the optional adjustable roof-line rear wing as used in the Mini Challenge, underbody protection for the fuel tank, composite air-scoops for the front brake discs, and compulsory front & rear tow-hooks are all that has been done, to the outside of the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works Tuning Kit.
Even the exterior lights are retained, depending upon the event.
An obligatory external electrical kill switch is also added.
The cars are fitted with off-the-shelf optional cross spoke 17 x 7” Mini road wheels, mounting Dunlop DZ 02G 215/45 -17 tyres.
The brakes are Mini Challenge 330 mm rotors, with 4-piston John Cooper Works motorsport callipers, complete with braided brake lines and competition pads.
German K & W coil-over suspension units feature adjustable ride-height, and are adjustable for both compression and rebound.
One other alteration is carried out: - in the interests of making the work of Mini Cooper S service crew easier, the standard wheel bolts are replaced with wheel studs and nuts.
Watch for the Mini Cooper S at iconic motor sports events during 2006 as Mini celebrates 40 years since its momentous win at Bathurst. In 1966 Bob Holden and Rauno Aaltonen led home Mini Cooper S racers in the first nine places. A feat unmatched to this day.
Team Mini - The Drivers and Navigators
Team Mini - Car 989
Mike Sinclair and Justin Hunt.
Team Mini - Car 993
Spencer Lowndes, Grant Denyer and Chris Randell.
Team Mini - Car 992
Tim Leahey and Paul Flintoft.
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