TG’s slidey, sideways ride in Mini’s new WRC weapon
The rallying Countryman may be a bit brutal to look at, but it’s ready to give the WRC an almighty kick up the backside in 2011
Posted: 14 Apr 2011
But, today, life is easier. We have a workshop to hand. And a test track. This is Prodrive's very own former airbase near Warwick, and my chauffeurs for the day are Lapworth plus Damian Harty, Prodrive's principal engineer of vehicle dynamics, who did a lot of that early computer modelling. There are two tarmac circuits, a fast one with some testing tightening corners and esses, and a smaller, bumpier ‘tarmac rally' stage. The Mini's really here just for an initial shakedown and hasn't been set up for tarmac. From our point of view this is nothing but good news: gravel tyres on asphalt make for wonderful sideways action.
It’s hungry for corners, and gobbles them greedily. But never at the angle you’d expect – especially since my view from the co-driver’s seat, set low and a long way back in the car to help the weight distribution, leaves me almost unable to see over the dash.