Apr 11, 2016 update to the Mini John Cooper Works project car

Our MINI Meets Its First Track Day

Back before we received our MINI, the John Cooper Works media introduction included some hot laps at the Alan Wilzig Racing Manor. No, we had never been there, either.

Press events usually offer just enough track time to whet your appetite. You’re not going to get time to refine your lines and really give the car a workout, though. And when it’s an unfamiliar piece of tarmac, you’re also learning the track itself.

We finally got in some real laps with our 2015 MINI John Cooper Works thanks to an SCCA PDX track day at Daytona International Speedway. Daytona? Well, part of it, as the event shared the weekend with an SCCA driver school and thus used the infield school course. This meant no trips to the high banks, but that also meant saner speeds for a car not sporting a roll bar, fire system or proper racing harness.

Our pre-event prep was fairly mild: torqued the lugs, set tire pressures, set fluids and cleaned out the car. We ran it on the OE Dunlop Sport Maxx RT tires, too. So, basically, the car was in as-delivered condition. We ran it in the Sport mode with the traction control and stability both deactivated.

How’d it do? Quite well. This was a one-day event, and we ran three sessions. Yes, it could use more tire as the stock 205s are a bit narrow. (Treadwear is a rather soft 240, though.)

The tail also wanted to wag a bit when slowing from north of 100 mph. The brakes felt a little soft after the day, but this configuration is a little hard on brakes as they don’t get much of a rest.

Those were our only issues. The car never ran hot, and nothing ever got weird.

MINI, it looks like you have given the world a track-ready machine.

Of course, we’ll need to evaluate further in the name of science.

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