Second place in the class for production-based vehicles with a displacement of 1,600 to 2,000 cc and turbocharger. Smiling faces among the team after a spectacular comeback - including Charlie Cooper, the grandson of the legendary John Cooper, the inventor of the Mini Cooper.
Nürburg. Even the qualifying sessions for the famous 24-hour race on the 25.378-kilometer circuit posed major challenges for man and machine. A long series of major tire problems affected several teams, including Bulldog Racing, which had to withdraw its starter in the SP3T race car class at short notice. Tension could be felt as the team looked forward to the race, finally all hopes rested now on the black MINI John Cooper Works with the starting number #126, which started from position nine of its class into the race. But soon confidence spread, because in the early stages of the race start driver Sebastian Sauerbrei made up several places in the class and in the overall classification. By the end of the 24-hour marathon, the MINI John Cooper Works 1to6 Edition with start number #126 had made up eight places in class and an impressive 49 positions in the 131-car field, impressively underlining its reliability with a podium finish.
The MINI John Cooper Works 1to6 Edition race car completed 114 laps, the distance driven equating to approximately 2,893 kilometers. On the way to the podium, the race car with manual transmission did 15 pit stops.
"I am very happy about this great result - for the Bulldog Racing Team, for MINI John Cooper Works, for everyone who cheered along, helped and did a great job," says Stefanie Wurst, Head of MINI. "I am very impressed by the whole atmosphere at the Nürburgring. The enthusiasm for motorsport is in the genes of our MINI John Cooper Works models. With the new MINI John Cooper Works 1to6 Edition, we celebrate our legendary motorsport history. We couldn't think of a more fitting opportunity to present this new edition to our fans here at the Ring and also surprise them with this excellent race result."
"Even more than the podium finish, I am delighted that we have succeeded in making the new MINI John Cooper Works 1to6 Edition a crowd favorite," said Alexander Schabbach, Managing Director of Bulldog Racing. "It's impressive how positively people react to our MINI race cars and how quickly our "Made in Nürburg" racers have developed a fan base."
"To start as an underdog and to be able to achieve such a great result right off the bat at the debut, that's typical MINI, says Charlie Cooper. "It feels like history repeating itself back in the spirit of the early 1960s when my grandfather John Cooper was underestimated against a perceived superiority of much more powerful competitors, only to win the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967. I'm delighted that together with MINI and Bulldog Racing, we've opened the next chapter in our brand's motorsport activities and given MINI its first podium finish in a 24-hour race."
In the first stint, Sebastian Sauerbrei in the black MINI John Cooper Works 1to6 Edition already made up numerous places and was significantly faster than in qualifying in his fastest lap with 10:16.362 min. After the first driver change it was Michael Mönch's turn, Charlie Cooper took over the wheel for the first time after the second pit stop. In the evening hours Christoph Kragenings got behind the wheel and then Sebastian Sauerbrei drove a double stint into the darkness. In the meantime, the team had made up 25 places in the overall standings of the 131 starters. In its class of production vehicles with up to 2.0 liters of displacement and turbochargers the MINI climbed to 5th place, competing with a lot of vehicles with significantly more power.
In a 24-hour race, no team is spared setbacks. Shortly after midnight the MINI ran into a problem with a fuel line in the auxiliary tank and had to be towed back into the paddock. After a one-hour repair it went back out on track and the chase to catch up began. Shortly after sunrise, Christoph Kragenings drove a new fastest time with 10:15.551 minutes.
The black MINI John Cooper Works 1to6 Edition seemed to feel more and more comfortable as the race went on - reliably and consistently it completed lap after lap and moved up to 3rd place in his class. In the final hours of the race a lot of competitors were not able to hold their pace or had to give up. Not the MINI, which had meanwhile been taken to the heart by the audience and was cheered for every time it passed by. In the last hour Bulldog Racing moved up to second place in class. Shortly before the race it even looked like a class win might be in the books, but the class leader crossed the finish line first with a clever strategy.
Considering that the black MINI John Cooper Works 1to6 Edition was finalized only one day before the first qualifying sessions, the result is a huge success for everyone in the team.
The VT2-class MINI John Cooper Works
The MINI John Cooper Works #126 produces 231 hp / 170 kW with a maximum torque of 320 Nm and is equipped with a 6-speed manual gearbox. The car, which was used on the approximately 25-kilometer racetrack, is based on a standard MINI John Cooper Works that has only been adapted to comply with safety features and standards for competition in the VT2 production car class.
Taking turns at the wheel of the MINI John Cooper Works with start number #126 were Charlie Cooper (GB), Christoph Kragenings (GER), Sebastian Sauerbrei (GER) and Michael Mönch (GER).