New Kid on the Block…
After 50 years, Mini Sport are still pushing through keeping the Mini brand alive with the latest edition to the Mini Sport team – a MINI JCW-01c World Rally Car! One of only 33 ever built, this beast will be taking our team to the next level in rallying, with our sights firmly set on the future!
Sinking their teeth in to the challenge of such a mighty upgrade, Manx Rally Championship 2016 winning crew – Mini Sport’s Daniel Harper and Chris Campbell, will be battling it out in a higher class this year during the Championship to see what this car can really do!
Following on from the first rally, you can read Co-Driver Chris’ event report –
Manx National Rally – A Baptism of Fire
May 5-7th saw the launch of the Mini Sport/WNT/Mazak rally team and our 2011 MINI JCW-01C World Rally Car. For the uninitiated, the car is loosely based on a 4 wheel drive MINI Countryman, and developed for the World Rally Championship by Prodrive, notably famous for the preparation of the Subarus driven by late World Champion Colin McRae and also the late Richard Burns. Under WRC regulations of the time, the car is powered by a 1600cc turbocharged engine driving a 4 wheel drive system through a manual 6 speed gearbox and providing over 300hp.
Driven by Daniel Harper and Co driven by Chris Campbell, the car is the next step in rallying following the end of development of the ever popular Mull competing and Manx Rally Championship winning 2 wheel drive MK52 JAU.
With sponsorship from WNT tooling and Airport Services Ltd, the team will embark on a selected number of tarmac events in 2017 with the proposal to compete in a full championship in 2018.
With this in mind, and with only 1 day of testing behind us, the team arrived on the Isle of Man to take on the challenging lanes of the Manx National Rally. Not having sat in a World Rally Car before and being over 10 years since competing in a left hand drive car, the event was to be used as a learning exercise…….and so it turned out to be…..in spades!!
With the project being kept relatively quiet, a few eyebrows were raised as the car was rolled out the trailer for noise test and scrutiny on Thursday evening!
Friday morning dawned bright and sunny, and with a forecast for the same all weekend, at least conditions for the event were to be consistent, most unusual for the Isle of Man, especially in spring! The event is made up of two legs, with a total of 122 miles of special stages on closed tarmac roads split between Friday evening and Saturday.
And so, running at car 6, we set off on the first leg of stages on Friday evening. Unfortunately, the combination of a small overshoot and stall, coupled with narrowly being involved in another competitors accident on stage, and then picking up two punctures in the final stage of the leg, meant we dropped nearly 6 minutes on the leg and plummeted down the leader board to 33rd position – not the start we’d hoped for, but at least we were still in the rally, albeit having also developed a clutch issue which required investigation!
Service crew Ian Joice, Mick Anderson, and Andy Lodge, burned the midnight oil to change the clutch and ensure we could restart on Saturdays leg 2 loop of stages.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny and on safety grounds we were allowed to run a road position relative to our clear stage times. And so we set off for the 6 stages totalling 76 miles and interspersed with 2 services.
After Fridays massive learning curve, Saturday was, quite literally, another day. We relaxed into the car more, and with confidence growing the stage times improved, posting consistent top 3 times throughout the day and allowing us to climb up to 10th position overall by the second service of the day. Only a decision to change a broken spring platform made the second service close on time but otherwise everything looked good.
A committed run over the two final stages of the day on Knocksharry and the classic Baldwins were rewarded with two second fastest stage times, moving us further up the leader board to a final finishing position of 6th overall……just where we started, but far better than the end of Friday night suggested!!
Thanks to the sponsors and service crew, and also to event food management Deb & Alex Harper, and Sandra Campbell, without who we’d have all died of starvation!!
“The car is everything we expected and more – it just now requires us the crew to match that potential!!”
– Chris Campbell Co-Driver – Mini Sport Team
Full results from the Manx National Rally can be found here.