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Track test: VLN-Schirra-Mini meets Rallye-Mini from 1968

Burkhard Kasan
Two rally minis in the track test
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P assender, Petrus would not have chosen the weather composition can. Gray-black thunderclouds boil over the Eifel like a mysterious mixture in a test tube. Rain, sun, rain. The weather god has ordered typical Nordschleife weather.

1,026 kilometers away, Petrus also plays the determining factor. First days of snowfall, now a thaw. The mild winter is deceptive. The wet asphalt turns into a slippery ice track. Black ice, rain, blizzards. Typical at the Col de Turini. Changing conditions are the icing on the cake on the former route of the Monte Carlo Rally in the French Maritime Alps.

Stylish weather capers for a special double track test. A replica of the Group 2 rally mini from Mini factory driver Rauno Aaltonen from 1968 meets the current long-distance Mini from Schirra Motoring, which is today in the VLN and at the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring with the DTM old stars Harald Grohs and Markus Oestreich as well as Friedrich von Bohlen fear the competition.

The blue-yellow Schirra-Mini with the start number 411 rages from the tourist entrance at Döttinger Höhe onto the Ring with a grumpy engine noise. Schwups, Antonius beech and the zoo are a thing of the past. The long-distance version is much more snappy on the gas than the clubsport model from the Mini Challenge. 'The car is a completely in-house development and is not based on the cup vehicle,' team boss Joachim Schirra had previously revealed.

Racing mini with 275 hp at 6,100 rpm

For the hunt through the green hell, the Schirra troop fundamentally modified the 1.6-liter unit . Thanks to the boost pressure increased by 0.3 to 1.4 bar, the maximum output of the turbo engine with direct injection increases from 211 to 275 hp at 6,100 rpm. In addition, a larger water cooler and a huge charge air cooler are used. While up to 375 Newton meters of maximum torque tug at the drive axle and whip the Schirra-Mini over the Eifel roller coaster, a historical rally legend is warming up at the foot of the French Maritime Alps.

Not entirely original, but the Mini Cooper S Mk II is a detailed replica of the factory Mini with the star number 18, with which Rauno Aaltonen finished third in the 1968 Monte Carlo Rally. From the Lucas covers of the four additional headlights to the racing clutch, theFrom the cage to the heated windshield, the replica resembles the former emergency vehicle. In the sixties, the only three meter long vehicles dominated the international rally scene. From 1964 to 1967 the British racing flea won the Monte four times in a row. In 1966, however, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) factory team was disqualified because of incorrect bulbs in the headlights - a highly controversial decision. 71-year-old ex-works driver Aaltonen remembers the recipe for success today. Enough of the advance praise. The historic Mini also wants to prove its potential today. Grumbling loudly through the racing exhaust system, the oldie scrambles up the first Turini switchbacks. Craggy rock faces stretch out on one side and deep gorges on the other. Only a knee-high boundary wall separates the stubby mini-snout from free fall during a ride. “Regardless of whether it is 20 or 50 meter deep ravines, as a rally driver you shouldn't think about that”, Rauno Aaltonen sums up later.

92 HP only needs to move 651 kilograms

The Mini still feels as comfortable on the winding pass road as it did over 40 years ago. A transversely installed four-cylinder in-line engine with double Weber carburettors works under the bonnet secured with coarse leather straps. Despite the slender unit (1,275 cubic centimeters and around 92 hp), which weighs only 651 kilograms, the car lightly swept around the bends by today's standards.

Change of scenery: Karussell, Hohe Acht, Wippermann. The 2009 Mini is far from the slim ideal weight of its historic brother. At 978 kilograms, he is anything but a heavyweight. 'The thing works so well that you no longer have to look in the rear-view mirror,' says the now 65-year-old Rennhaudegen Grohs describing the potential. 'It also makes Harald around five years younger,' adds teammate Oestreich with a smile. Thanks to the Drexler lock, the hot mini scores with outstanding traction. With uniball joints and a four-way adjustable Sachs chassis, the Schirra version drives much more precisely than the clubsport version. A three-and-a-half degree camber on the front axle gives the snappy racing flea precise steering behavior.

The mini rack and pinion steering from 1968 also works surprisingly directly. The spiked tires crackle on the tiny ten-inch Minilite wheels on the icy, historic special stage kilometers. 'With left-hand braking you can easily move the Mini sideways,' reveals Rauno Aaltonen Kniffe of his spectacular driving style. Despite the front-wheel drive, the 68 Mini with its very rear-heavy braking balance allows for amazing drift angles.

Drifting one last time - and the Works representative is on the centerpiece of the formerMonte Route arrived. The Mini on the Turini high plateau at an altitude of 1,607 meters.

VLN record time is 9:07 minutes

The Nordschleife lap is also history after less than ten minutes. The guest pilot climbs out of the current mini cockpit with a broad grin. 'Our VLN record time is currently 9:07 minutes, but we want to go below the nine-minute limit,' concludes Harald Grohs. 'For 2010 we are planning even more performance and a sequential transmission,' reveals team boss Joachim Schirra, how the ambitious plan should succeed.

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