This past weekend I had the honor of witnessing the MINI John Cooper Works Racing Team of LAP Motorsports dominate in the BMW Endurance Challenge for the season-opening race of the IMSA Continental Tires Sportscar Challenge at Daytona International Speedway! It was amazing to watch the 3 LAP Motorsports MINIs race the field on the high banks of Daytona and pull out a win in dominant fashion!
I will be posting full video I shot from victory lane soon, but I wanted to share this recap video of the race day to congratulate Luis Perocarpi and the entire LAP Motorsports team on the amazing performance and win!! Can’t wait for Sebring!!
This past weekend was the first time running the full course at Sebring since I last drove it in 2008 in my 2006 R53 MINI Cooper S, Scooter. Last year I was lucky enough to take the Ford Shelby GT350 R out for a spin at Sebring, but it was the club course and not the full 3.7 miles. All I can say is WOW!! I wasn’t sure how well the F56 MINI would perform on the track compared to the R53, but I was quickly impressed by not only the power, but the amazing handling I was able to get out of the MINI Dynamic Damper suspension coupled with the NM Engineering lowering springs, control arms and sway bar.Overall, the car felt amazing around the track. Plenty of torque allowed me to power out of turns in 3rd gear without having to drop to 2nd. One the straights, the 2.0L engine provided plenty of power to not let the higher horsepower V8s get too far ahead ;).Body roll was almost non-existent, which made for a very stable and comfortable feeling whipping through the twisties. I had forgotten how much I love being out on track and am very happy to have had this chance to get back out there and surprise some Corvette owners again lol.
Photo Credit: PhotosByJuha.com
Wow! This past weekend, the MINI JCW Team finished with all three of their cars in the top 10 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX! The race was quite exciting and a pretty high rate of attrition throughout. The JCW Team hung in there, though, to finish 6th (#73), 9th (#52) and 10th (#37). This is the first time all three cars finished in the top 10!! Way to go!!
Photo courtesy John Loftis
Only one more race left in the season and it takes place on Sept. 30th at Road Atlanta. Hopefully the JCW Team will get another podium finish!!
In just three weeks, the ultimate HPDE track weekend kicks off at Sebring International Raceway!! Hosted by the National Auto Sport Association (NASA), the weekend of October 1-2, 2016 will not only provide a fun High Performance Drivers Education (HDPE) experience for fellow MINI owners and enthusiasts, but will also feature a rare opportunity to watch two generations of race MINIs compete on the same track at the same time!
If you have watched the Continental Tire Series for some time (formerly the Koni Challenge Series), you will remember the RSR Motorsports R53 MINIs that competed in the series. Driver/Owner, Randy Smalley, will be bringing two of the RSR MINIs to Sebring to race against the current generation LAP Motorsports F56 JCW MINIs being brought by team owner, Luis Perocarpi. This will be quite a thrill to watch these MINIs out on the track together!!
Stay tuned for photos and videos from the weekend. Also, If you are interested in participating in the weekend, head on over to the NASA website to register!
Huge thanks to COOPERation for the Sebring 2016 artwork!!
Finally, at long last, IMSA has approved a slight bump in maximum allowed power to the MINI JCW Team this week heading into this weekend’s race at Canadian Motorsports Park. The new rules allow for a Maximum Boost Pressure of 2170 mbar Absolute (a 50 mbar increase from the previous 2120 mbar Absolute limit). If you are wondering what that translates to in PSI, the MINIs will now be able to run a max boost of 31.5 PSI instead of the previous value of 30.7 PSI. While it does not sound like much (and in reality it isn’t), the team will surely take what they can get to help even the playing field with the other cars that are putting out a bit more power. Special thanks to Mike Bober from That MINI Show for sending this information in!
IMSA Rules 2016: Specific Car Regulations 7/5/2016
A few of us in our local MINI club are trying to plan a track weekend at Sebring later this year. To get some practice in, I hit the track in Forza 6. Here is a quick 3 lap race at Sebring in a 2013 MINI John Cooper Works GP, recorded off Forza 6 on the Xbox One. The controller I used was the Thrustmaster TMX Force Feedback Steering Wheel and Pedals. The GP’s horsepower in the game was upgraded slightly to just about 300hp due to some in-game mods ;). Enjoy!
It was a hard fought day at Laguna Seca! The MINI JCW Team battled through spins, flat tires and penalties to finish 14th (#73), 21st (#52) and 23rd (#37). Early on, the #37 MINI driven by Ethan Low really was showing some promise battling through the field to get as high as 4th. Unfortunately, later in the race, the #37 would be parked for accidentally engaging reverse gear while in the pits. The #73 MINI had a scary incident when it spun after having a slight off. Luckily no one hit the MINI and all was well. The #52 MINI did not spend too much time outside of the 20s today. The car seemed to not have quite as much speed as the other 2 MINIs. On the plus side, no MINIs ran out of braking power today ;).
Photo Courtesy of MINI JCW Team
If you want to read a very nice detailed summary of the race, check out the race results article over at MINIRaceFan.com. Eddie over there put together a very nice post-race report. Also, if you didn’t get a chance to catch the action live today, it will be re-broadcasted May 8th on FS1 at 8:00am ET.
[ Full Race Results ]
I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen the pictures but it looks like the #73 MINI fell victim yesterday to another surprise boot spoiler deployment lol. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen today in the race!!
Photo Credit: Norman Nelson (Motorwerks Magazine)
The Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge race from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca can be live streamed on IMSA.com today, April 30th at 4:25pm ET. Ethan Low was able to qualify 8th for today’s race in the #37 MINI which is a big improvement from where the team unloaded this week. The #73 MINI will start 18th and the #52 MINI will start 23rd. If you can’t watch today, it will be broadcast May 8th on FS1 at 8:00am ET.
BTW – I stumbled across a great MIN race site that follows the team closely – http://www.miniracefan.com/. Check it out if you have a chance!