For BMW, the Mini GP breed is at the end of a 50-year thread that can be traced all the way back to the BMC Minis that John Cooper fettled for circuit racing and Group 2 rally use. And although buyers might find victory at Monte Carlo a rather tricky act to follow, there’s no denying that the car’s modifications have been implemented with potential track use in mind.
For the first time on a Mini, individually adjustable coil-over suspension has been fitted, which means that the ride height can be lowered by up to 20mm in the pitlane. To increase lateral stiffness, the dampers are installed with the piston rods pointing down, and wheel camber front and back has been dramatically increased.
Those wheels – unique to the GP – are shod with road-legal track-day tyres, serious enough in intent that Mini will put a conventional alternative back on if you’d prefer something that works in the wet. Clearly visible through the 17-inch rims are an even brawnier set of brakes.
At the front, six-piston calipers clench 330mm ventilated discs. As well as providing colossal stopping power, these are entrusted with the job of replicating a limited-slip differential via a sub-function of the Dynamic Stability Control.
Rather than reacting to a loss of traction in a bend by reducing power, the GP’s Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC) brakes the inside wheel while allowing full drive to reach the outer.
That energy is sourced from the turbocharged 1.6-litre motor shared with the rest of the John Cooper Works range. It has been updated for 2013, but a different engine map and a very marginal increase in turbocharger pressure give the GP a unique delivery.
BMW has also improved the performance of the Mini’s intercooler by installing an aerodynamic shield underneath which, as well as reducing drag, uses slits to such hot air out of the engine bay.