This Mostly Stock Electric Mini Punched Above Its Weight. It’s Now A Street Rally Champion

It’s a traditional David and Goliath story. An underdog versus the heavyweights. A tiny Mini Cooper in racing spec takes down some a lot larger and costlier automobiles, together with supercars, on the rally circuit. However this is not a narrative about the wins from the classic Mini back in the 1960s. It is a story from proper now, and this champion did not want gasoline to take the checkered flag. 

It entails a largely commonplace Mini Cooper SE – the earlier era one, thoughts you – and a few Ferraris, Porsches, and rally-spec hatchbacks. Simone Tempestini, the 2016 Junior World Rally Champion can be a part of the story, though he doesn’t have something to do with the Mini’s efficiency.

However sufficient of the introduction. Let’s get to the details. A Mini Cooper SE simply turned the world’s first recognized electrical automobile to win a nationwide road rally championship in opposition to inside combustion automobiles. It occurred in the beginning of the month in Romania the place driver Horia Platona piloted the EV that’s lovingly nicknamed “Racing Mimi” to victory within the front-wheel drive class of the nationwide Tremendous Rally Championship.

In the identical class, you’ve automobiles just like the rally-spec Peugeot 208 R2 (that has a 189 horsepower 1.6-liter engine) and the TCR-spec Kia Ceed (which is powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four engine making 340 hp.)

By comparability, the Mini Cooper SE has simply 184 hp and, to make issues worse, it’s additionally one of many heaviest of the front-drive bunch, weighing about 2,645 kilos (1,200 kilograms.) And that is even after it went via a weight loss plan consisting of fiberglass doorways and plexiglass home windows, amongst different issues.

Some specifically developed goodies embody a supplemental dry ice-based cooling system and a Drexler limited-slip differential, with all of those being dealt with by Engange Engineering, which is predicated within the Transylvanian city of Brasov. 

They made certain the automobile was as much as the duty of operating cool and quick within the six phases which are primarily based completely on the city streets of Romania, and looking out on the consequence, they did an excellent job. After all, the motive force, Horia, additionally did his half to make the perfect of what he had and win the championship in his class with only one level separating him from the second place.

Within the sixth and ultimate stage of the Romanian Tremendous Rally Championship, Racing Mimi outpaced automobiles just like the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, Ferrari 458 Challenge, and Radical SR3 – that are arguably a lot quicker than an all-electric road-going hatchback. 

Nonetheless, pouring rain gave the two-door EV a large benefit on the twisty Bucharest metropolis circuit, and on the finish of the day, Horia completed in second place, sufficient to safe a category win within the so-called 2A class, which incorporates all of the front-wheel drive automobiles within the championship.

Mini Cooper SE - winner of the 2023 Romanian Super Rally Championship in the front-wheel drive class
Mini Cooper SE - winner of the 2023 Romanian Super Rally Championship in the front-wheel drive class

As for the previous Junior World Rally Champion, Simone Tempestini, he was the winner of the Bucharest stage general. However as a result of he solely has a so-called “one occasion” license for this explicit championship, he didn’t rating any factors within the general standings. Moreover, he solely ran within the final stage, whereas the Mini Cooper SE accomplished all six phases and scored factors in each occasion.

Within the general championship standings, together with open-seater, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive automobiles, Horia and his Racing Mimi completed a good thirteenth out of 26. Jerome France was the all-out winner in his Nova Proto NP03, which is a purpose-built carbon fiber race automobile just like a Radical.

It’s not a bombastic Le Mans or Sebring win, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a worthwhile victory. The crew says it could be the world’s first championship victory of an EV combating combustion automobiles, as battery-powered racers normally compete in single occasions, like Tesla at Pikes Peak within the U.S., however contemplating the worldwide presence of rallying there’s no manner of understanding for certain.

Regardless, between stuff like this and the Rivian R1T that won this year’s Rebelle Rally, it is additional proof that EVs are actual contenders within the racing world. And so they’re removed from accomplished but. 

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