The Swiss become the swift: the MINI Challenge Switzerland is pure clubsport racing – as it has been for ten years now. And yet its unique concept still adds an extra something to the one-make cup. The MINI mix is the key: the combination of slaloms, sprints and hill-climbs means that the drivers must show real versatility. It has also made the championship a big hit outside of Switzerland: the MINI Switzerland clubsport series was an absolute star in Varano, Italy. Switzerland’s MINI one-make cup combines real racing with that infamous go-kart feeling and MINI lifestyle. Another exclusive feature is the ability to choose between the two categories MINI Cooper S and MINI Racing.
Unlike in other MINI clubsport series, the MINI John Cooper Works Challenge is not used in Switzerland. The MINI Cooper S class, which boasts larger figures, is reserved for production-based cup versions with road-going sports tyres. In order to guarantee equal opportunities, all the racing cars are built centrally by MINI Switzerland and important components are sealed in order to prevent any forbidden modifications. In the “open” MINI Racing class, participants can line up in more heavily modified versions of the MINI. The most powerful models generate over 280 hp.
In Varano, the majority of the drivers who featured at the front in the slalom also had their noses in front in the sprint. Dino Wintsch’s tactic of laying down a number of fast, but not too aggressive, laps at the start worked perfectly in the first sprint. His fastest time withstood the attacks of all 18 opponents in the MINI Cooper S class. It appeared that only Davide Fiorina understood the importance of allowing the tyres and engine on his MINI to cool sufficiently, in order to complete another flying lap shortly before the finish. He missed out on Wintsch’s time by just 28 thousandths of a second. It came as no great surprise that former kart driver Thierry Kilchenmann was always challenging at the top of the times in the free tests and official practice. He finished third in the sprint.
In race two, Kilchenmann employed Wintsch’s tactics from the opening round. Armed with new front tyres, he went on the attack in the first lap and his time remained unbeaten. Nassimbeni and Muzzarelli also used a clever strategy: both upped their pace significantly over the course of the race to claim the remaining podium finishes.
In the MINI Racing class, defending champion Daniel Baumeler was, as expected, a cut above the rest.
The MINI Challenge Switzerland will continue to demonstrate its versatility in the coming weeks: the next slalom is scheduled to take place in Chamblon next weekend, before the first hill-climb of 2012 is held in Ayent-Anzère at the end of June.
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A car built for victory. The MINI John Cooper Works Challenge races across the track at 240 km/h.
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