via Press Release
The new MINI Cooper John Cooper Works Challenge takes track-driving performance to a new level, while offering a thrilling on-road driving experience that doesn’t sacrifice everyday comforts and refinement.
Based on 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 Plant Oxford, worked with key suppliers on the racing car to deliver the best genuinely credible trackday machine. With its super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, adjustable suspension, and limited slip differential, the MINI JCW Challenge takes track performance to levels never before seen in the small hot hatch class.
Only 100 JCW Challenge MINIs will be produced, featuring a unique color combination and graphics, Genuine MINI JCW Pro Accessories, in one fixed specification only.
A home-grown performance hero, designed and developed in the UK
A small group of employees at MINI Plant Oxford set out to create a MINI that was specifically designed and developed for a racing circuit but perfectly suitable for the public road. They collected their ideas outside of work time, fueled by the desire to create a car that 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 UK, with considerable road mileage also accrued as the car was fine-tuned.
The MINI John Cooper Works Challenge car 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.
High performance starting point: the MINI John Cooper Works Hatch
The new MINI John Cooper Works Challenge uses the latest MINI JCW Hatch as its basis. Powered by a 2-liter four-cylinder engine featuring MINI TwinPower Turbo technology, model-specific design of the pistons, turbocharger and exhaust release 231 hp and 320 nm of torque. These prodigious outputs enable a 0-62 mph time of just 6.3-seconds, with a top speed of 153 mph. When fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox (the only gearbox option available for John Cooper Works Challenge), John Cooper Works manages a remarkable 42.2 mpg, with C02 emissions of just 155 g/km.
MINI John Cooper Works Challenge is readily identifiable by its body addenda, including enlarged air intakes at the front for increased cooling, contoured wheel arch extensions and rear spoiler. Inside, JCW sports seats and sports steering wheel create the perfect environment for driving enjoyment.
Tuning parts for the ultimate road and track performance
The standard MINI JCW is a formidable performance car on road and track, but the Challenge’s engineering team knew that it could do more. Realizing that the JCW Hatch’s power output was already exceptional and reliable, they concentrated their efforts on the chassis, tires and braking.
Many road cars are said to be ‘inspired by the world of motor racing’, but the link with John Cooper Works Challenge is more genuine 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 UK MINI Challenge.
Chassis: tuned on road and track
The team was searching for ultimate track performance and it was imperative that JCW Challenge featured a suspension that could be adjusted by the driver to the environment in which the car was being driven.
UK-based suspension supplier Nitron 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 JCW racing car and is hand-built with many titanium and hard-anodized parts to the very highest quality standards.
Camber adjustment plates on the front axle allow for an increase in negative camber, with JCW Challenge possessing two degrees of negative camber on both the front and rear axle. Thanks to adjustable camber and castor, the suspension geometry of the new car is significantly different to that of the standard car. The MINI JCW Challenge is supplied with recommended settings for both road and track driving, the damper units offering adjustment through numerous ‘clicks’, but owners can choose to experiment with their own settings to tune the car precisely to their own tastes..
Quaife automatic torque biasing (ATB) limited slip differential provides superior traction when powering out of corners. 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 with all standard fit electronic systems (DSC, Performance Control, etc).
Wheels and tyres: more grip, less weight
The engineering team spent a lot of time during the development process testing different makes and compounds to find not only a tire 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 tires 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 1.5 kg of unsprung mass per corner. Combined with the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2, this weight advantage further increases to 2.5 kg per corner.
Braking: greater reserves of retardation
The John Cooper Works Challenge employs grooved and part-drilled 330 mm front discs with four-pot Brembo-developed calipers, sourced from the MINI JCW Pro Accessories range. These are paired with specially developed Mintex brake pads. This combination offers superb braking power with excellent resistance to fade on track. Even so, no compromise with 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 fiber air intake further complements enhances the look of this new model, as do the Carbon Fiber Mirror Covers.
A JCW Pro exhaust with carbon fiber tailpipe finishers not only maximizes 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.
No more than 100 MINI John Cooper Works Challenge cars will be produced.It is available with one fixed specification and exclusively with MINI’s acclaimed 6-speed manual gearbox.
Each car is painted in White Silver and can be readily identifiable by a bespoke graphics package and 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.
The standard specification includes Piano Black interior trim, rear Park Distance Control, Rain Sensor with 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 UK now.
The MINI Challenge:
The MINI Challenge has provided the best MINI racing in the UK since 2002, and is part of a family of racing championships run across Europe. For 2016, the UK 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 255 bhp 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-liter 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.
MINI John Cooper Works Challenge and MINI Seven at Goodwood Festival of Speed
Joining the new MINI John Cooper Works Challenge at Goodwood will be the MINI Seven. MINI Seven, inspired by classic Mini heritage alongside modern design and technology, will be on display for the first time from 23-26th June.
As well as experiencing the latest production models, visitors to the MINI stand at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2016 will be able to interact with a 3D virtual exhibit showcasing the MINI VISION NEXT 100 vehicle. Developed to celebrate 100 Years of BMW Group and show the brand’s vision for mobility of the future, the MINI VISION NEXT 100 will be revealed at the Roundhouse, Camden, London on 16th June.
Elsewhere at the festival, Dakar driver, Harry Hunt will be on hand with the MINI ALL4 Racing car, which he drove to finish 10th in his debut Dakar race this year. MINI Challenge racing driver, Charlie Butler-Henderson will also be driving the new MINI John Cooper Works Challenge up the iconic Goodwood hill.
For those wishing to try their hand at racing themselves, the MINI stand also has its very own MINI Challenge Racing Experience. Budding amateur drivers can use the virtual driving experience to pit themselves against their friends driving the MINI Challenge race car.