Woodcliff Lake, NJ, and Indianapolis, March 18, 2015.
MINI USA and LAP Motorsports LLC today confirmed the team’s driver line-up for MINI’s return to the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSCC) in the Street Tuner (ST) class. The Indianapolis-based MINI John Cooper Works team owned and operated by racing veteran Luis Perocarpi will make its racing debut this weekend at the Microsoft Visual Studio 150 at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.
Earlier this week the new MINI John Cooper Works team, which formed only a few months ago, left for Sebring with brand new cars and a mix of youth, talent and experience ready to get behind the wheels. Remo Ruscitti and Dan Clarke will share the #37 car while Lukas Johnson and Stephen Simpson will share the #52 car.
The team will compete with a fleet of production-derived MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop race cars closely related to the John Cooper Works Hardtops that will be arriving in dealers this summer. This will be the first time these cars put rubber to tarmac in competition. In addition to the MINI USA support, the team also has sponsorships with Fikse Wheels and KW Suspensions.
“All four drivers have a proven history of winning championships at various levels and have experience in either the Tudor United or Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge racing series,” said Luis Perocarpi, owner and operations director of LAP Motorsports. “By combining MINI’s famous go-kart handling with a BMW Group developed turbocharged power plant and these talented drivers, we will have cars on track competing for the win.”
With a super-wide stance, ultra-rigid body and incredibly precise handling, MINI has a long history in motorsports and has always felt right at home on the track. Ever since John Cooper first exploited the racing potential of the classic Mini in the early 1960s, his name has stood for success and performance on the race track with MINI.
“We are looking forward to having Luis and the team at LAP Motorsports join the MINI Motorsports family and know that they will continue to build on the rich racing heritage that started back in the 1960s,” said Chris Potgieter, Product Manager, MINI USA. “When you combine the power and performance of the new MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop, the most powerful car that we’ve ever built, with the proven track record of the LAP Motorsports team, it is sure to be an exciting year for all the MINI fans everywhere.”
The young guns on the team are Ruscitti and Johnson, a pair of 20 year olds with racing IQs beyond their years. Hailing from Toronto, Ontario, Ruscitti had a great 2014 campaign in the ST class notching a victory and several top ten. Johnson, from St. Paul, Minn., won the 2013 Intercontinental Trophy Cup season championship and competed in both ST and GS class events during the 2014 season. Both have lengthy resumes of success in national and international karting and have seamlessly transitioned into sports cars over the past two years.
Bringing track-tested leadership and international experience of their own are Dan Clarke and Stephen Simpson. Clarke, from Yorkshire, UK, brings an outstanding resume, which includes British F3, Champ Car World Series, A1GP, Indy Lights and selected races in the 2014 CTSCC. Simpson, who hails from Cape Town, South Africa but now resides in Indianapolis, also has a long history of success climbing the open wheel ranks in Europe including British and European Formula 2.0, A1GP, Indy Lights, Formula Atlantic, and ALMS. Most recently he has enjoyed success in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship Prototype Challenge series with JDC Miller Motorsports.
MINI’s return to motorsport is all encompassing, even down to the finest details, with the cars racing under the historic numbers of 37 and 52 used during MINI’s racing success in the 1960s. In 1964, Northern Ireland’s Patrick (“Paddy”) Hopkirk and his co-driver Henry Liddon held off more powerful rivals and won the legendary Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S for the first time. The classic Mini’s dominance of the Monte Carlo Rally continued over the years with Hopkirk’s Finnish team-mates Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen adding two more overall victories in 1965 and 1967.
Early this year, MINI celebrated its fourth consecutive overall win at the world famous Dakar Rally when Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel crossed the finishing line in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires as the overall winners, having won five of the 13 legs in their MINI ALL4 Racing.
In addition to this new partnership with LAP Motorsports, MINI USA enjoys a partnership with the Miles Ahead driving school, which operates the MINI Motoring School at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This year the school will operate with a program fleet using 2015 MINI John Cooper Works Hardtops.