It’s pedal to the metal for the start and the home straight on the Circuit Paul Ricard, then throttle that speed for the next 90-degree right bend. The result is screeching tyres, growling engines and a great deal of excited spectators. There are good reasons for having the international MINI fan community’s biggest festival opened by the two new club racing series MINI RUSHOUR and MINI Trophy: the racing action is up close here and this is where the various MINI racing cars get to demonstrate all of their power. And much to the delight of the MINI fans who have flocked here from all over the world, even the old hands find themselves being really put to the test here. Take Kris Meeke, for example.
As a guest starter in the MINI RUSHOUR, the rallying professional suddenly found himself confronted with an unusually large number of competitors on the track on the first day of MINI United. Kris lined up for the training sessions with start number one on Friday. And he finished in second and third place, bathed in his own sweat but grinning from ear to ear – "That’s much fun!" commented a delighted Kris. The qualifying session starts at 10:35 on Saturday and Kris hopes to be just a little bit quicker then. It’s then all systems go in the MINI Trophy series too, which boasts a line-up of drivers that’s no less impressive. Jürgen Schmarl of Germany didn’t let anyone get the better of him during the two training sessions on Friday and posted two record times.
With drivers such as Patrick Gonçalves, the winner of the MINI Challenge Brazil and the MINI Challenge Argentina 2011, the top Spanish drivers Marta Suria and Luis Reyes, and a further 22 first-class drivers from Germany, Austria and France, there’s still plenty of action to come. There will also be a whole lot more burning rubber during the MINI Trophy qualifying session which starts at 11:10 on Saturday. The actual races for both series then get under way on Sunday. And by then at the very latest, there won’t be an inch to spare in the stands at the Circuit Paul Ricard.
The heroes of this year’s Dakar Rally from the X-raid team will be mingling with their fans on the MINI Motorsport stage next to the central pit building. And there will be an interview session with none other than Stéphane Peterhansel, the 2012 winner of the toughest rally in the world. After the interview session, Stéphane will sign autographs for their fans next to the MINI Motorsport stage until his wrist aches.
Armindo Araujo of the MINI Portugal WRC team won’t have far to walk as his team has set up camp right opposite the MINI Motorsport stage. The mechanics of the MINI Portugal WRC team will put on a spectacular live servicing show when they take Armindo’s MINI John Cooper Works WRC apart. But it’s no skin off Armindo’s nose, as he’s used to this from his involvement in the World Rally Championship. And if necessary, he can always turn to Paddy Hopkirk and Rauno Aaltonen for a little moral support, as the winners of the 1964 and 1967 Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S will likewise be putting in a guest appearance on the MINI Motorsport stage. You will find these two rallying legends there on Saturday from 12:10.
Up-to-date photos of the events at MINI United can be found here: Facebook.com/MINImotorsport
MINI is represented by a strong contingent of five cars at this year’s 24-hour race in Barcelona. Great things are expected of all four teams on the endurance circuit.
The MINI Motorsport family is large and embraces the whole world. Find out more about the MINI Stars worldwide.
Others may have claimed wins, but Jürgen Schmarl moved to the top of the table. The MINI TROPHY in Spielberg/Austria provided real MINI-style racing with plenty of action and a dose of glamour.
Ultimate cornering, breathtaking acceleration.
MINI fans who live for circuit racing are in for a real treat this weekend. Events will be held in five series, in which many private MINI teams will line up on the grid.
A car built for victory. The MINI John Cooper Works Challenge races across the track at 240 km/h.
Experience MINI John Cooper Works.