X-raid Mini ALL4 Racing – Dakar Rally Winner

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The fastest version of the not-so-mini Mini Countryman is the John Cooper Works (JCW) version. John Cooper himself will need to have been spinning in his grave when he found out about that one: the initialshare with you another version of the Mini Countryman, and it also, too, has all-wheel drive. And while you can’t acquire one from your local dealership, we suspect Mr. Cooper would approve. You’re looking at the Dakar Rally winning Mini ALL4 Racing, an extreme race machine, purpose-built by X-raid in Trebur, Germany.

Admittedly, to think of it a Mini Countryman is stretching the purpose somewhat, because the only parts shared with the biggest Mini are definitely thebigger than the road car’s. Don’t think for a minute that it’s a lightweight structure, though.part ofWhich he, alongside co-driver Michel Perin, endured six-hour stints at the wheel in cabin temps up to 120 degrees F reveals just how mighty their achievement was.

It’s a bit cooler for your test in the middle of open desert not not even close to Dubai. And it also was only a point of time before somebody asked if the racer had air cooling, it’s above 100 degrees F. It doesn’t, incidentally, unless you count the roof-mounted airscoop that can be manually closed and openedin and approximately to terrify co-driver Michel PĂ©rin.

Nonetheless, there’s excessive to learn about the vehicle to be worrying about comfort. I’m strapped into the Recaro seat with a six-point Sparco harness, and my co-driver shakes my hand before rattling throughout the controls.

I’ll never complain again about a haphazard dashboard layout, because the Mini was plain bewildering. Very little is familiar.

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I spot items such as the speed limiter control. It works much like a pit lane limiter and is suited for the public road sections, where competitors must adhere to speed limits for safety. It’s monitored instantly by the authorities via satellite tracking which means you don’t wish to forget it.

There are controls for the lockable differentials plus much more, including several display monitors, one of which wouldn’t look out of place in an engine test cell. It has direct accessibility bespoke ECU and allows the co-driver to monitor every facet ofIt will alert him if measurements go outside safe limits (temperatures and pressures mainly), allowing detailed analysis if needed, so he can speak to the team in the satellite phone to identify or rectify any issue. That’s not allowed traveling, however, which is just as well, as we were about to discover…

The only controls that demanded my attention related to keeping the Mini going in approximately the correct direction as quickly as I could manage. I’m most certainly not about to destroy the beast because this very car is due back in competitive action a few daysto make use of. That was created in a bid to reduce driver fatigue, undoubtedly. The steering wheel is normal, if detachable to help ease entry, where there are three pedals in the footwell.

I’m told the Mini All4 Racing clutch pedal is only necessary to move away from a standstill, so that’s one less thing to worry about. The Sadev sequential transmission is controlled by way of a substantial lever that sits next to the steering wheel-pull back to change up, push forward to decline. Easy. And it’s light in operation.

2014 mini ALL4 racing user interfaceFirst and feather the throttle. The revs flare. This doesn’t sound like a typical turbodiesel engine… There’s no requirement for revs to consider off with a great deal torque on tap. It is designed to wade through mud and deep sand, or anything else that gets in its way, so the development engineers focused entirely on torque instead of outright power.

At the heart from the engine, which can be mounted deep in the chassis at the front, sat quite far back, is a straight-six BMW 3.0L turbodiesel. It uses twin sequential turbochargers, with the smaller turbo always spinning. Which means there’s no lag. A bypass valve is opened gradually allowing the exhaust gases to spin the bigger turbo, helping it make the 516 lb-ft of torque.

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Moreimpressively and perhaps, is that this occurs at just 2,100 rpm, and it’s plain weird to change up not long after that. The deep reserves of grunt at low revs make themselves known as we enter a 180-degree hairpin in soft, rutted sand. It is like the car will almost certainly bog down. My co-driver shakes his head and tells me to hold the gas pedal pinned. Sure enough, there’s a gradual accumulation of boost and the car suddenly rises out of the ruts and throws itself toward the nearest sand dune.

I sense my co-driver tense as he suggests slowing down to the jump rather late. We have some air, but my ego comes crashing right down to earth by using a bang since the car’s weight conspires with gravity to bury us in the sand. It’s no match for the Mini, though, therefore we emerge on the other side in a cloud of dust and a burst of revs.you would expect this to get relatively comfortable, thanks to the soft sand, high-profile tires, and long-travel suspension, you’d be as surprised as I was to discover the ALL4 Racing features a hard, uncomfortable ride, jiggling its occupants on relatively smooth surfaces and pounding them mercilessly over rutted and broken terrain. After 30 minutes in the wheel, I’m bruised but exhilarated.

Right after a efforts and breather to get my thoughts, it’s time for you to play the co-driver as Nani takes the wheel to demonstrate me exactly what the Mini can really do. Within yards, it’s clear I didn’t scratch the top of theas he commits 100 percent to ruts, bumps and corners and jumps. It’s not comfortable (in fact, it’s violent), but it really sure as hell works well. Every time a wheel loses contact with the ground, it quickly returns to terra firma, allowing complete confidence in where car will likely be pointing afterward.

Nani hits the hairpins at greater speeds, using the power and four-wheel drive.

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If the racer will probably topple over, as it certainly pitches about when changed into a corner-it’s a high vehicle, even in his hands, occasionally I wonder. Yet Nani is in the zone and we’re soon attacking a series of sand dunes at speed. This is apparently normal to the car and driver, as neither seemed the least bit fazed at the conclusion of the ordeal, although every landing is torture.

You might not be able to order a Mini ALL4 Racing from the factory, but if you possess the cash, the X-raid team will gladly include you in their program.most powerful engine from theTechnology Underbody flaps produce downforce or reduce drag as needed

Electronics Side Slip Angle Control is perfectimagineSome time five seconds: While driving in traffic on your way to work, this small segment of your energy takes longer to describe than actually experience. Yet at Fiorano racetrack, Ferrari hallowed home circuit of, 1.5 seconds is an eternity.

Ferrari originally built Fiorano in 1972 to give the organization a benchmark for development and testing. The 1.86-mile circuit has 12 curves, and it has a good driver in a very good car to lap 1.5 seconds quicker than the1 minute, 23.5 seconds around Fiorano, the 458 Speciale was exactly 1.5 seconds faster than the standard 458 Italia, and 1.4 seconds faster than the legendary Ferrari Enzo.

2012 Ferrari 458 Spider – First Drive

There’s little wrong with all the 458 Italia to start with, as well as the improvements Ferrari has wrought for the Speciale are in the same vein because the 360 Challenge 430 and Stradale Scuderia. These are derived from the classic trifecta of increased power, less weight, andmaking it the most powerful engine of its kind that Ferrari has ever produced.

Boasting a specific production of 135 hp/liter, the engine features a new crankshaft, pistons, rod bushes, combustion chambers, camshafts, and a host of mods that strengthened the internals. With its incredible 14: 1 compression ratio and 9,000-rpm rev limit, it demands a strict diet of top-quality fuel.

The result is a power hike from your Italia’s 570 hp to 605 hp at 9,000 rpm. If the peak of 400 lb-ft at 6,000 rpm remains unchanged, Torque also improved across the board, even.In the Speciale it feels almost explosive, although acceleration always felt strong. And also the enhanced seven-speed F1 dual-clutch gearbox now fires 20 % faster 44 and upshifts percent faster downshifts.

Between the first three ratios, the rev counter needle races round the dial so rapidly, the eyes and brain are grateful for the red warning flashes that arrive a split second ahead of the rev limiter arrives.

It all helps, and full noise throughout the gears delivers -60 mph in 2.8 seconds, although quite frankly, shift speed is now at the point where any more improvement is just of academic interest.

On the other end from the scale, the 398mm front and 360mm rear carbon-ceramic brakes the engineers say are almost straight from LaFerrari bring a brand new meaning towards the phrase throwing out the anchor!

In the event the standard- fit four-point harnesses will leave a permanent impression on your own shoulders, they work so well, it feels as. Mean-while, the steering is so direct and precise, it makes the remarkable 458 Italia’s responses feel relatively sedate.

Aerodynamic fine-tuning reduced drag and increased downforce. Depending on speed, one horizontal and two vertical flaps right in front end move to increase radiator airflow at low speeds and reduce lift above 105 mph.

The larger rear spoiler increases downforce over the rear axle at speed, while active underbody rear flaps are adjusted as expected to either produce more downforce or reduce drag by stalling airflow to the rear diffuser.

From the cabin, non-essential items for example the glovebox, leather interior trim, door panel armrests, and the standard center console were removed. Including the sound insulation was substituted for thinner, lighter materials. Lightweight race seats and thinner rear glass added to this list of weight- pruning measures.

The body weight saving trail even led to the more effective air intake system, cutting 17.6 pounds away from the 458 Italia intake. The effect was a total weight decrease in 198 pounds and a more intense soundtrack for occupants, even if the external levels remain EU regulation-friendly.

In Sport mode, the re-calibrated magnetorheo-logical frequency-dependent damping is noticeably firmer compared to the standard 458, but Comfort mode enables you to dial some semblance of normality back into the ride when you’re sauntering along. The Comfort setting also retards the engine and gearbox reflexes back from Defcon Two, lowering your adrenalin rush at the same time.

Race mode is much like Defcon One. Too edgy for most public roads, its natural environment is the racetrack, where full throttle and full braking-with little else in between-is the order of the day.

While Pirelli continues its long-standing partnership of all Ferrari models, the Speciale’s 20×9-inch and 11-inch forged wheels wear 245/305 and 35/30 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber. This is the 1st time track day tires have featured on a production, street-legal Ferrari-by using these allowing the Speciale to pull 1.33 g of lateral acceleration.

While some rival manufacturers are adopting similar footwear for his or her limited edition lightweight models, Ferrari has always been wary of the reduced tread depth that makes hydroplaning more likely if the driver pushes too hard in wet conditions. The Italians were finally convinced that Michelin’s latest Cup 2 tires won’t relinquish their grip inside the bounds of common sense, however. So Ferrari adopted the bespoke rubber to maximize the car’s steeringhandling and response, and grip.

In my experience, track day rubber may be worth a second or two a lap, so I was frankly surprised the performance trifecta didn’t actually produce a much larger gap between the two 458 variants. Looked at a different way, rather than as an indictment of any more expensive Speciale, it’s actually a evidence of how good the standard Italia is, over three years on.

It also shows-and you’ll only realize after driving both cars-that the additional money isn’t for purely empirical improvements up against the stopwatch. Your cash pays for the greater number of visceral experience that reaches out to you through the controls, grabs the seat of your respective pants, and hammers at your eardrums when you’re in attack mode.

The Speciale delivers a degree of involvement few cars at any price can match, and in an accessible way, even if you’re only piloting this low-flying machine at two thirds of its ability.

An added setting around the familiar Manettino controls a whole new function with addictive potential. Ferrari’s rather tortuous good name for the system is Side Slip Angle Control (SSC). It allows you to drive sideways under power with all the ESP fully engaged by balancing the interplay in between the ESC stability control, third generation E-diff, and engine torque. Unofficially, it’s the right drifting aid.

The high-resolution sensors and ECU mapping were designed to differentiate between a situation in which the car is running out of grip, and one wherein the driver is deliberately provoking oversteer.

Inside the latter situation, the sensors ascertain the optimum steering angle, throttle position, engine revs, and tire slip for a given point in a bend. By reacting in milliseconds, the system removes exactly the right amount of throttle as required, while adjusting the E-differential’s locking action to help you achieve the most suitable cornering attitude, because so many drivers tend to apply an excessive amount of throttle whenever a car begins to lose adhesion at the driven wheels.

Working seamlessly, you never feel the SSC is intrusive or abrupt like some traction control systems used to be. Smooth and progressive, it makes a typical driver look good, and a good driver seem like a hero.

Of course, you are able to still turn everything off, but then you’re on your own with a decent chance of spinning if you overcook things.

While electronics play a major role in the Speciale’s dynamic makeup, making them transparent and ensuring they support the car’s immensespeed and excitement, and driver involvement is a major achievement. Retaining the user friendliness and driving ease of the essential Ferrari 458 is another. The Ferrari 458 Speciale is unquestionably well named.