MINI Mania hits southern France. Around the "Circuit Paul Ricard", where MINI United 2012 will open its gates on Friday, the MINI brand already dominates the townscape of Le Castellet. Thousands of expectant fans are already making their way through the streets of Europe on their way to the biggest MINI community festival in the world. Some have already arrived in the region. Many fans have brought their beloved cars with them. Whole convoys of MINIs of all shapes and sizes are flocking towards southern France. Many fans from the most far-flung regions of Europe have not been put off by the journey, and are already on their way to the MINI Mecca of Le Castellet.
One thing is already certain: the journey will be well worth the effort. The programme awaiting the fans is out of the top drawer. Under the motto "Friends. Festival. Racing.", the lives of MINI fans from around the world will revolve around the French town of Le Castellet. One high-class musical act after another will take to the many stages around the site of the former Formula One circuit. Headlining the programme is the band "Gossip", with its iconic lead singer Beth Ditto. Those who like their music a little rockier are in for a real treat with "Iggy and the Stooges", featuring rock legend Iggy Pop. "The Rifles" will be on hand to provide quality British Indy rock, while Hubert-Félix Thiéfaine will add a local touch with his French pop-rock. These are just some of the endless musical highlights on offer at MINI United.
The entertainment does not stop there, however. The racing programme itself is hard to beat. The newly formed MINI RUSHOUR will hold its inaugural race at the "Circuit Paul Ricard". The teams will take to the track for two practice sessions on Friday. Qualify takes place on Saturday morning, followed by the first race at 14:00. The second race gets started at 12:00 on Sunday. The MINI Trophy is also new. One round has already been held in Germany and the second takes place as part of MINI United. Once again, the practice and qualifying sessions are followed by two races: Saturday at 15:00 and Sunday at 13:00. The fans can look forward to top-class motorsport action. The paddock is already almost complete, and the teams are already hard at work on their cars in the garages.
The pros also know a good thing when they see it: Stéphane Peterhansel from the X-raid team is one of many MINI drivers who will be in the south of France. As a local, he is particularly looking forward to the MINI party in his native France. "I am really looking forward to MINI United," says the winner of this year's Rally Dakar. "I am looking forward to meeting fans from all over the world. It goes without saying that my MINI ALL4 Racing, with which we won the Dakar, will also be there." MINI maniacs can also take a closer look at the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. Armindo Araujo of WRC Team MINI Portugal, who is competing in the MINI WRC in the World Rally Championship, says: "MINI United will be a great weekend for all MINI fans. I am already really looking forward to Le Castellet and the great racing tradition at the Circuit Paul Ricard."
And while all that is going on? Pure MINI action: race taxi drives, test sessions in new MINI models, safety courses with specially trained driving instructors, track drives over the entire distance of the race track and, last but not least, the premiere of a brand-new MINI model. The pulses of all car fans in France are guaranteed to be pushed to the limit. Tickets are now only available at the ticket shops on site. See you in Le Castellet.
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