The Nurburgring Endurance Series for 2023 has begun, and the newly constructed MINI John Cooper Works by Bulldog Racing took part in its first race on Saturday. The team utilized the season opener as a test run under race conditions to gather crucial information about the new car.

Debut at Nurburging

Charlie Cooper (GBR) and Sebastian Sauerbrei (GER) drove the car with starting number 468 in the VT2-FWD class. Charlie Cooper, whose grandfather invented the Mini Cooper in 1961, made his race debut on the Nordschleife track and got familiarized with the challenging track. He received his DMSB Permit Nordschleife for the new MINI John Cooper Works just a day before the race. During the race, his fastest lap was a 10:35.194.

The MINI John Cooper Works had a strong start and gained several positions, and Sebastian Sauerbrei drove his fastest lap of the race in 10:10.763. As the race progressed, there were numerous accidents and Code-60 phases, so the team focused on setting up the car, ultimately finishing in ninth place out of 15 starters in their class. The team completed 21 laps and made five pit stops in four hours. The MINI John Cooper Works from Bulldog Racing finished the race in 88th place out of 118 drivers.

Revised MINI JCW

Extensive modifications have been made to the new race car to compete in the close-to-series VLN production car class. The MINI has been optimized for the highly competitive VT2 class through various upgrades, including an 80-liter fuel tank, KW Clubsport suspension, and a Remus performance exhaust system. Additionally, a Drexler limited-slip differential has been installed to ensure optimal power transmission to the racetrack. The MINI has undergone a weight reduction of approximately 100 kilograms, making it a lightweight contender on the track.

Last week, the MINI underwent test and set-up runs, serving as a trial by fire for the 170 KW (231 hp) car. Team boss Friedhelm Thelen himself drove the car during the test.

The driver duo of Charlie Cooper (GBR) and Sebastian Sauerbrei (GER) will compete again for Bulldog Racing in two weeks at the second race of the Nürburgring Endurance Series on April 1, 2023.

Here is our own experience with the MINI John Cooper Works by Bulldog Racing and an interview with Charlie Cooper: