Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Sunderland to host 2014 Roger Albert Clark Rally

The 2014 Roger Albert Clark Rally (28-30 November) will have a completely new look as the event starts a new era with Sunderland as the host city.

With the rally start, finish and HQ all based in Sunderland, the route will make extensive use of the Kielder forest complex and will take in several stages that are completely new to the event in a total competitive route of up to 190 stage miles.

The move north to Sunderland is being supported by Sunderland Live, the events arm of Sunderland City Council, and has allowed rally manager Colin Heppenstall to give the rally a fresh new look.

The event will be based around the Seaburn Leisure Centre, which will provide the venue for rally HQ, scrutineering, documentation and prize-giving. The event is also set to feature a spectacular spectator stage at the Herrington Country Park.

The format of the rally, which has been so successful over the last two years, will continue, starting with several stages in the darkness of Friday evening before two very full days of rallying on Saturday and Sunday. Initial route plans include over 90 stage miles on Saturday with a route heading as far west as Kershope. Sunday’s stages will be centred on the main Kielder complex before the finish in Sunderland from around 6pm.

“This is the major refresh I wanted to give the event,” said Heppenstall. “We’ve always moved the host city on a regular basis and the time was right to refresh. This should deliver the fresh challenge that the competitors wanted. We are very grateful to everyone involved at Sunderland for their enthusiastic co-operation and for their eagerness to welcome the event to Sunderland.”

Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council said: “We've got major sporting traditions here in our city and a strong automotive industry. Now, hosting the Roger Albert Clark Rally, we have a major motorsport event and everyone can see part of the rally with the stage at Herrington Country Park. The organisers say it's going to be a spectator spectacular and I'm sure it will be.”

Chris Alexander, Chief Operating Officer of Sunderland Live said: “We’re delighted to be helping bring the Roger Albert Clark Rally to Sunderland this year. The rally stage held at Sunderland Festival in 2013 proved there was huge demand for an event of this kind and we’re sure that this will be equally successful.”

Heppenstall says that his target is 190 stage miles, with all the gravel miles contained within the Kielder complex. He is also working to hold the entry fee at 2013 levels despite a 20% increase in competitive mileage. Final details of the route, along with event regulations, will be released in due course.

For more details about the Roger Albert Clark Rally, please visit

FIRST LOOK: New 2014 MINI Countryman unveiled (F60)

  New version of the MINI Countryman debuts at New York Auto Show
  • All engines now EU6 compliant, CO2 reductions across range
  • Cooper S output increased to 190 hp
  • Rugged new exterior styling and optimised acoustic comfort
  • Enhanced driving performance, optimised aerodynamics and fuel consumption
  • New colours available, including Jungle Green, Midnight Grey and Starlight Blue

A new version of the MINI Countryman – the first MINI to feature four doors, five seats and optional all-wheel-drive – will debut at the New York International Auto Show, further boosting the brand's advance into the premium compact segment.

Updated exterior design, optimised fuel consumption and emission figures – as well as innovative equipment enhancements – contribute to the more mature character and increased appeal of the new MINI Countryman.

With striking body design accents, refined premium characteristics in the interior and enhanced efficiency, the new MINI Countryman builds upon the strengths of the previous model. An important pillar of growth for MINI with 350,000 units already sold worldwide, this model has everything it takes to attract new customers into the MINI brand.
Increases in power output, improved aerodynamic properties and further efficiency enhancements (thanks to MINIMALISM technology), have resulted in better acceleration and top speed in some models.

All model variants now have lower fuel consumption and emission figures, as well as meeting EU6 emission regulations. MINI’s ALL4 all-wheel-drive system continues to be available on MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper S, MINI Cooper D and MINI Cooper SD Countryman. The MINI ALL4 system comes as standard with the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman.

Exterior – sophisticated and rugged.
The distinctive appearance of the MINI Countryman derives from its dimensions, four doors, large tailgate and unique roof shape combined with the individual interpretation of MINI’s hallmark proportions and design. 

With the new MINI Countryman, both model-specific and hallmark brand elements are given additional emphasis. The upright front section conveys a powerful presence with a newly designed hexagonal radiator grill. A horizontal radiator grille rib finished in chrome on the new MINI Cooper S and MINI Cooper SD Countryman – along with a curved "S" in red – now give the front an even sportier edge. The front of the new MINI John Cooper Works Countryman features a red radiator grille rib supplemented with the John Cooper Works logo.

In all other model variants the radiator grille is now subdivided by two ribs. In MINI One and MINI One D Countryman models these are finished in high-gloss black, while in the MINI Cooper and the MINI Cooper D Countryman sport a matt silver version.

A number of new features enhance the robust and versatile character of the new MINI Countryman. In conjunction with the MINI ALL4 all-wheel-drive system, underride guard elements for the front and rear apron (as well as for the side sills) are now included as standard. These highlight the ground clearance of the Countryman, indicating its potential for driving away from tarmac roads.

The range of exterior paint finishes available has also been expanded with the addition of Jungle Green metallic and Midnight Grey metallic, and Starlight Blue metallic paint is now available on the MINI Countryman for the first time.

A contrasting paint finish for the roof and wing mirror caps in black or white is available as a no-cost option (with the exception of the MINI One and MINI One D Countryman).  A contrasting red paint finish is offered free of charge for the new MINI John Cooper Works Countryman. There are also Sport Stripes and bonnet stripes in a variety of colours to choose from.

Available on a MINI for the first time is the new Piano Black Exterior trim. In addition to the surrounds of the headlamps and rear lights finished in chrome as standard, a high-end dark shading is applied to the diagonal links between the A columns and front wheel arches, the roof rails and the cross-ribs in the radiator grille of the MINI One, MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper D Countryman. Chrome line exterior is available a no cost option.

New reduced weight alloy wheels, LED fog lights.
The MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper D Countryman now come with 16-inch light alloy wheels in 5-Star ‘Air Spoke’ Design as standard. Likewise, the 17-inch light alloy wheels in the new 5-Star ‘Triangle Spoke’ Design for the MINI Cooper S and MINI Cooper SD Countryman also save weight over their predecessors. They are also optionally available in a two-colour design. Both wheel versions are also available in an optional MINIMALISM version, including tyres with reduced rolling resistance for further reductions in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.

Another new addition to the MINI Countryman are LED fog lights with LED daytime driving lights. This distinctive new feature is fitted as standard to MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper D, MINI Cooper S, MINI Cooper SD and MINI John Cooper Works Countryman.

The new LED fog lights provide an intense, bright white light with a much higher level of energy efficiency than conventional lamps. The structure of their light sources in full LED also helps make the front view of the new MINI Countryman striking and instantly recognisable. The daytime driving light takes the form of a luminous ring fed by 15 LED units. When the parking lights are switched on, only five LED units are activated in the upper third of the ring.

Interior and acoustic refinement.
The interior of the new MINI Countryman features characteristic brand designs combined with a highly versatile interior space. The premium compact model offers five seats as standard along with the MINI Centre Rail attachment system fitted between the driver and front passenger seat. Acoustic refinement has also been enhanced in the new MINI Countryman.

The displays and controls have been redesigned so as to enhance the car's sporty flair and premium character. All model variants of the new MINI Countryman now have anthracite-coloured dials for the tachometer and speedometer the style of the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, whose central instrument now also bears the John Cooper Works logo. The standard trim of the new MINI Countryman also includes chrome finishes for the ventilation controls.

Extended MINIMALISM technology for increased driving fun and reduced fuel consumption figures.
The petrol and diesel engines available for the new MINI Countryman all meet the EU6 exhaust emissions regulations. The high efficiency of the modern four-cylinder power units and the extended use of MINIMALISM technology also ensure an even more favourable balance between driving fun and fuel consumption.

Detailed measures promoting efficiency include optimised air ducting in the area of the underbody, wheel bearings with a lower friction coefficient and tyres with reduced rolling resistance.

The four-cylinder spark ignition engine used in the MINI Cooper S Countryman, with twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection and variable valve control, also sees an increase in output to 190 hp. This results in a reduction in the 0-62mph time of 0.1 sec to 7.5 secs, while the in-gear sprint from 50 to 75 mph in fifth gear now takes just 8.4 secs – down 0.2 secs.

Fuel consumption in the new MINI Cooper S Countryman on the EU test cycle has improved to 47.1 mpg, while CO2 emissions drop by three per cent to 139 grams per kilometre.

Figures for the full MINI Countryman range are as follows:

Model Power 0-62 mph Fuel Consumption CO2
One89 hp11.949.6 mpg134 g/km
One D90 hp12.967.3 mpg111 g/km
Cooper122 hp10.4 (-0.1)47.9 mpg137 g/km
Cooper D111 hp10.967.3 mpg111 g/km
Cooper S190 hp7.5 (-0.1)47.1 mpg139 g/km
Cooper SD143 hp9.2 sec (-0.1 sec)62.8 mpg119 g/km
John Cooper Works218 hp6.9 sec        (- 0.1 sec)39.8 mpg165 g/km

The MINI ALL4 all-wheel-drive system is available as an option on MINI Cooper, MINI Cooper S, MINI Cooper D and MINI Cooper SD Countryman models. The system is based on an electromagnetic centre differential and distributes drive force at continuously variable levels between the front and rear axle. The MINI ALL4 electronic management system integrated directly into the DSC unit enables power transmission to be altered as required, responding within milliseconds.

All engines are combined with a six-speed manual transmission as standard. An optional six-gear automatic transmission is available for all model variants, with the exception of the MINI One D Countryman which includes shift paddles as standard on MINI Cooper S, Cooper SD and John Cooper Works Countryman.  Shift paddles for manual selection of gears is available as an option on MINI One, MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper D Countryman. A Sport Button is also available as standard on MINI Cooper S, Cooper SD and John Cooper Works Countryman offering more direct steering and accelerator response and is available as an option on other models.

In conjunction with the automatic transmission, pressing the Sport Button also results in changes to the shift points. In the new MINI Cooper S Countryman this also triggers a particularly striking, sporty engine sound.

Five-star safety, tyre pressure control and daytime driving light now standard.
The MINI Countryman has extensive standard safety features resulting in a top score of five stars on the Euro NCAP crash test. MINI Countryman now also includes daytime driving light and tyre pressure control as standard. Constant measurement of pressure on each individual tyre means that the driver is given an early warning of potential loss in each tyre.

High-quality standard and optional equipment.
Standard equipment on the new MINI Countryman includes air conditioning, MINI Centre Rail between the front seats and a high-end radio system comprising CD player with MP3 capability, AUX-in socket, DAB radio, Bluetooth, five speakers and rear Park Distance Control.

As customers would expect from MINI, there are also a variety of high quality additional options available.  These include Bi-Xenon headlamps and adaptive turning light, comfort access, panoramic glass roof, automatic air conditioning, removable tow bar on some models capable of towing loads of up to 1,200kg, MINI Navigation System, multifunction steering wheel with cruise control, Harman Kardon hi-fi speaker system and model-specific John Cooper Works accessories.

MINI Connected.
As ever, MINI Connected is also available in conjunction with the MINI Visual Boost Radio or as part of the Media Pack. It offers extensive smartphone integration inside the car, allowing the use of internet-based services including Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and Glympse. RSS news feeds, internet radio and music streaming services including AUPEO!, Stitcher, Deezer, Audible, Napster/Rhapsody and TuneIn can also be operated from within the car through the MINI Connected interface.

The new MINI Countryman starts from £16,990 OTR and is available to order from MINI dealers nationwide in late spring.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation Rally 3rd May

Racers are reminded that entries for the Carlisle rally close this Saturday, the 19th April, and to help you the organisers have made the following statement:
We have been asked by several people that are doing Hamsterley or the Granite, can they wait to see how they get on before putting their entry in for Pirelli. What we will guarantee is this, put your entry in now and if you have a problem on either of those events we will refund you 100% of your entry fee.

Super Smooth Stages
Competitors in the MSA British Rally Championship are certain to enjoy a smooth start to the 2014 series with news that the opening round, the Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation Rally, will be running over some pristine forest tracks with the all the roads in superb condition following an exceptionally mild winter. The Border forests, Kielder and Kershope, have seen a complete absence of frost, and indeed, only a smattering of snow, leaving the roads so totally undamaged that, for the first time in many years, no regrading will be necessary prior to the event.

A recent survey by the organising team’s Chairman, Brian Kinghorn, left him enthusing, “It’s the best condition I have ever seen Kielder in, we could run the rally tomorrow, the roads are so superb and will make the base for some really competitive motoring.”

With six super smooth stages in Kielder and a further four in Kershope, the pace will be electric, giving drivers in both the MSA British Rally Championship and their counterparts in the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship, an early chance to show what they are capable of. This promises to be a treat, not only for the competing crews, but also for the thousands of spectators who flock to see the rally, they are assured of some really fast and spectacular action.

The Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation Rally runs over the weekend of 3rd/ 4th May and the action in the forests will be preceded by a high profile start ceremony in Carlisle city centre, giving the public an unrivalled opportunity to see the cars and crews close up.

There will be a real carnival atmosphere surrounding the start and finish of the Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation Rally, a great double header featuring the opening round of the 2014 MSA British Rally Championship and the 2nd round of the Mintex MSA British Historic Rally Championship, which arrives in Carlisle over the weekend of 3rd/4th May for while the cars assemble in the city centre, to be flagged away by the Mayor, Cllr. Ray Bloxham, the hordes of spectators will be kept amused by a programme of street entertainment, laid on by the enthusiastic city council.

The competing cars will be on show before leaving the start line outside Carlisle’s Old Town Hall, where the crowds will be entertained by a variety of performers plus the Langhom Pipe Band will be adding to the occasion with the skirl of the pipes echoing round the historic buildings throughout the day.

As an additional attraction, budding drivers of tomorrow can try out their skills on a giant Scalextric layout which will be in operation at the Old Fire Station Arts Centre throughout the day. Entry to this, and all the other attractions, is completely free of charge.

The end of the rally should prove to be quite an occasion as, in addition to a high profile podium finish in Carlisle city centre, the Zing Community Rock Choir will be on hand to make sure the proceedings go with a swing.

For further details on the 2014 Pirelli Carlisle RB Foundation Rally, please visit the website at .

Saturday, 5 April 2014

MINI shoots and scores: The MINI Paceman GoalCooper.

The countdown is on in Brazil and soccer fans are gearing up for the biggest global sporting event of the year. Jerseys and flags are in huge demand but one question remains: what will be the car of choice for celebrating fans from mid June? MINI is sure to strike from outside the box with its homage to the beautiful game: the MINI Paceman GoalCooper.

This top international player is based on the MINI John Cooper Works Paceman, and is equipped with all it takes to make it from the group stages through to the final.  The MINI Design Team captained by Oliviero Weilinho combined the colours green, blue and yellow to come up with the exclusive Danielson multi-coloured exterior line, giving MINI an early 1:0 lead.

The interior kit is far from off-side, astro turf floor mats in Brasileiro Green and the "floodlights" in the shape of a MINI LED interior lighting package give a stadium like feel. With this equipment aboard the MINI Paceman GoalCooper will set off "Mexican waves" on all four seats.  It is match-fit when it comes to reliving controversial referee decisions and glorious goals via live web stream.  A universal holder for smartphones and a rear holder for the Apple iPad will ensure comfortable viewing on the rear seat terraces. For relieving pre-match tension or enjoying some half-time downtime the MINI Paceman GoalCooper features a miniature table football set mounted on the Center Rail.

The MINI Paceman GoalCooper is fully equipped for training between matches. The rear seatbacks can be folded over to turn the boot, which is fully clad in AstroTurf, into a football goal. The net is attached behind the front seats.  The MINI Paceman GoalCooper has a top defence line-up making it very difficult for any striker to score. As soon as the Park Distance Control (PDC) sensors, in conjunction with the interior monitoring sensors of the alarm system, register a shot on goal, the electric tailgate is operated, instantly closing the tailgate, reflecting the ball and keeping the box clean.

If a player successfully puts one past the ‘keeper’, he can share his success immediately with other MINI drivers.  When the final whistle has been blown after 90 minutes the score is transmitted to the iPad in the MINI via a special MINI Paceman GoalCooper MINI Connected App. Thanks to intelligent connectivity the results can be compared online with other registered users at any time. The table is updated every day and at the end of the tournament the MINI Community World Champion will lift the trophy.

Find more photos on our FACEBOOK page.

Large MINI contingent at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

The FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies is in full swing. The next great challenge on the race calendar, the third, comes in the form of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, from 6th to 10th April – the 4th rally of the year. MINI and the Monster Energy X-raid Team travel to the third round of the 2014 season looking to build on solid recent results.

In the 2nd round of the championship, the Baja Russia, local favourite Vladimir Vasilyev finished second in the MINI ALL4 Racing, which is based on the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman and fourth at the 3rd round, the Baja Italy. His young team-mate Martin Kaczmarski (PL) came home fourth and fifth.

There will be a much larger contingent of MINI ALL4 Racings on display in Abu Dhabi. The X-raid team will run six cars in the desert. Among the drivers in action is Dakar winner Joan “Nani” Roma (ES), who returns to the cockpit for the first time since his triumph at the toughest rally in the world back in January of this year. The Spaniard arrives as defending champion, having won last year’s Desert Challenge.

The Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was first held in 1991. This year’s demanding route takes the competitors on a 2,015.8-kilometre trek through the desert. The conditions are very similar to those encountered at the Dakar Rally: fine desert sand, in which the cars can easily become stuck. This season, the MINI ALL4 Racing has already proven on more than one occasion that it can reliably, and seemingly effortlessly, overcome these extreme conditions.

MINI drivers at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

 #302 MINI ALL4 Racing.
Monster Energy X-raid Team
Joan “Nani” Roma/Michel PĂ©rin (ES/FR)

 #303 MINI ALL4 Racing.
X-raid Team
Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RU/RU)

 #306 MINI ALL4 Racing.
X-raid Team
Erik Van Loon/Wouter Rosegaar (NL/NL)

 #308 MINI ALL4 Racing.
X-raid Team
Martin Kaczmarski/Filipe Palmeiro (PL/PT)

 #309 MINI ALL4 Racing.
X-raid Team
Stefan Schott/Andreas Schulz (DE/DE).

#311 MINI ALL4 Racing.
X-raid Team
Aidyn Rakhimbayev/Anton Nikolaev (KZ/RU)

FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, race calendar:

14.02. – 16.02. Baja Russia
13.03. – 16.03. Baja Italy
06.04. – 10.04. Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
20.04. – 25.04.  Cross Country Rally Qatar
18.05. – 25.05. Pharaons Rally Egypt
18.07. – 20.07. Baja Aragon
14.08. – 17.08. Baja Hungary
28.08. – 30.08. Baja Poland
03.10. – 09.10. Rally Morocco
30.10. – 02.11. Baja Portugal

Thursday, 3 April 2014

More awards for the WWRS R.A.C. Rally Championship

Competitors in the West Wales Rally Spares R.A.C. Rally Championship will have a chance of winning a £500 discount on the entry fee for the Roger Albert Clark Rally (28-30 November) under a new initiative announced by the Roger Albert Clark Rally Motor Club.

The winners of Category 1, Category 2 and Category 3 in the WWRS R.A.C. Rally Championship will each receive a £500 voucher to be used against the entry fee for the November event.

The vouchers will significantly reduce the entry fee for the eleventh running of the Roger Albert Clark Rally and further highlight the strong links between the championship and the rally.

Championship and rally manager Colin Heppenstall said he was pleased to make the announcement: “I said as part of the build up to the announcement of the new Roger Albert Clark Rally for 2014 that the club wanted to recognise the category winners from the championship for their achievements.

“With five championship rounds still to run the championship is all to play for. We now have 97 registered drivers and the motor club is keen to give something back to the crews as a thank you for making the championship one of the best supported in the UK today.”

Full details of the 2014 Roger Albert Clark Rally will be announced shortly.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Irish crews encouraged to enter 2014 Severn Valley Stages

The organisers of the 2014 Severn Valley Stages (Saturday 31 May) have issued an invitation to crews from Ireland and the Isle of Man to come and sample some of the finest gravel stages in the UK.

The event comes at a perfect time of the season to attract crews from across the water and the organisers have arranged special ferry deals with Fairfield Motorsport. Any visiting crews will be able to scrutineer on Saturday morning if required and the organisers will do everything possible to ensure that crews can get away promptly on Saturday afternoon for return ferries.

“Ireland and the Isle of Man unquestionably have some of the finest asphalt stages, but we think we’ve got some of the best gravel stages,” said Clerk of the Course Chris Ashley. “We’d love to see more Irish and Isle of Man crews on our event. We know we will have several crews coming over with the R.A.C. Championship, but we’re keen to welcome more.”

A special award will be presented for the best performance for a crew travelling across the Irish Sea to get to the Severn Valley Stages. Details of the ferry deals are available from Judith Morgan at Fairfield Motorsport: Tel: within UK, 01656 725 000 Outside the UK, 00 44 1656 725 000. Discount deals are also available to spectators travelling to the rally.

The Severn Valley Stages Rally is a competitor-focused event offering 44 stage miles for £475. The route will take in special stages in Cefn, Crychan and Halfway forests, and both Cefn and Halfway will not have been used for 10 months by the time of the 31 May rally.

The Severn Valley Stages is round four of the West Wales Rally Spares R.A.C. Rally Championship, round five of the Brian Dennis Motorsport Welsh Historic Rally Championship and round five of the Pirelli MSA Welsh Stage Rally Championship. The rally will once again be based at the Royal Welsh Showground at Builth Wells.

The Regulations and Entry Form can be downloaded from