Excerpt from BMW PRESS RELEASE 04/18/2007
In 2007 the MINI CHALLENGE will be held on no less than eight racing weekends with a total of 15 races for the title. And even the very first race is a genuine highlight, with 38 MINI Cooper S battling it out at Hockenheimring on the occasion of the DTM German Touring Car Masters. Then the teams will also be enjoying a spectacular backdrop at two races held on the occasion of major Formula 1 events, the German Grand Prix at NÃ¼rburgring and the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps, where the MINI Cooper S is bound to thrill a large crowd of enthusiasts.
The MINI CHALLENGE will then enjoy international flair on the Dutch race track in Zandvoort, where the local races will be the sporting highlight of the MINI United Festival, the meeting of MINI fans from all over the world.
The MINI CHALLENGE 2007 will also be making a guest appearance at the World Touring Car Championship in Oschersleben, in the 24-Hours of NÃ¼rburgring on the famous Nordschleife, and on the occasion of the Oldtimer Grand Prix also taking place at NÃ¼rburgring.
By tradition, the grand finale of the MINI CHALLENGE will be held on the Salzburgring in Austria. And like in the last three years, this famous Clubsport Series will be entering the new season in 2007 once again with a complete line-up of 38 technically identical MINI Cooper S.
The MINI CHALLENGE owes its exceptional appeal and popularity to a truly innovative concept: motorsport meets lifestyle! Adding to the spectacular atmosphere of motorsport, famous guest drivers provide the final touch, with numerous VIPs also having sat in the cockpit in recent years – among them celebrity enthusiasts such as German actor Thomas Heinze, singer Hadda-way, or TV comedian Axel Stein. And at the same time former Formula 1 stars such as Jacques Laffite, Christian Danner, and Johnny Herbert have also been carried away by the MINI CHALLENGE bug.
In the meantime numerous VIPs have expressed their interest in the MINI CHALLENGE for the new, upcoming season, among them Fanta Vier singer Smudo and film star GÃ¶tz Otto, the “bad guy” in the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies”.
Lifestyle is also the name of the game in the MINI CHALLENGE beyond the race track: in the Paddock Lounge chill-out music, a special bar, large plasma screen TVs and a special cuisine varying from one location to the other combine international flair with a truly relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. So it is no surprise that MINI CHALLENGE hospitality has become a regular highlight and a popular meeting place for drivers, teams, sponsors, and guests alike at the races. And in 2007 MINI CHALLENGE hospitality will also be the scene as well as the “base camp” for a number of spectacular events beyond the race track as such.
The sporting highlight of the MINI CHALLENGE is the absolute equality given to each driver: With all drivers entering the races in a technically identical MINI Cooper S, the one and only decisive factor is the driver’s talent at the wheel. All cars are prepared at the same location on behalf of MINI, being optimised for the race track by means of the John Cooper Works Tuning Kit. Major components such as the engine and gearbox of the 154 kW (210 hp) racing machines are specially sealed in order to prevent any undue modification of the components and units involved.
A feature absolutely unique on a clubsport car of this kind is that the anti-lock brakes (ABS brake technology) remain fully functional after being adapted to the respective race track (see the section on Technical Highlights for further information in this context).
Another exemplary feature is the prescribed use of the HANS (Head and Neck Support) system effectively protecting the driver’s head and neck area. Indeed, this feature combining superior sportiness with outstanding safety makes the MINI CHALLENGE particularly interesting for the rookie racing driver entering motorsport for the first time as well as the ambitious amateur driver wishing to enjoy the unique thrill of such an outstanding motorsport series. A further benefit for all teams is that they have a fully equipped working area at their disposal at the Driver’s Club, a special tent sent up in the pits.
To maintain a steady balance and equal opportunities among all participants in the course of the season, successful drivers are required to carry along a racing handicap in subsequent events, with the winner, for example, being required to take on an additional 25 kg. Then, depending on ongoing results, this ballast is either increased step-by-step to a maximum of 50 kg or it is reduced once again (see the chapter on Regulations for further information).
Points are awarded not only in the overall category, but also in a special category for Gentleman Drivers (drivers over 50 years of age) and in the Team Category.
Over and above the overall prize money of some Euro 340,000.-, no less than three MINIs are given away as additional prizes for the most successful drivers. The regulations specifically allow the teams mostly organised by BMW dealers to change their drivers in the course of the season. Still, the Championship Category is restricted to a maximum of two drivers per car who must have registered in advance for the MINI CHALLENGE.
The MINI CHALLENGE is becoming an increasingly international pheno-menon of growing significance in many countries. This year the MINI United Festival in Zandvoort (22-24 June 2007) marks yet another highlight in this process, with the organisers expecting the same kind of crowd at the event near Amsterdam as at the first event of this kind in October 2005, when some 6,000 MINI enthusiasts from 40 nations all came together in Misano, Italy.