The Romanian team behind the world’s first electric MINI race car is at it again. While the purpose-built, first-generation Cooper SE will continue to race under the “Racing MINI” banner in 2024, there will be a second car. Derived from the Racing MINI initiative, the newly founded Engage Racing is swapping brands while staying within the BMW Group, focusing on developing a race-ready BMW i4 M50.
Horia Platona, Racing MINI’s development engineer and technical coordinator, is now part of the Engage Racing sports club. If his name rings a bell, Horia won the 2023 Romanian Super Rally Championship in the class the Cooper SE was entered. Nicknamed “Elsa,” the much more powerful BMW i4 M50 faces a grueling task ahead, racing at the 2024 Pikes Peak.
The 102nd edition of The Race To The Clouds is scheduled for June 23. This long-running hill climb event, first organized in 1916, will feature a modified version of Bavaria’s M Performance electric car. The i4 M50 will retain its standard drivetrain — a pair of electric motors delivering a combined output of 536 horsepower and 795 Newton meters (586 pound-feet) of torque sent to both axles. Piloting the race-ready EV on those 156 turns part of the 12.42-mile-long course will be the very same Horia Platona.
As official images show, Elsa is currently a work in progress, and its official presentation is scheduled for a couple of months from now. Before making its debut at the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) race in Colorado, the electric vehicle will have its motorsport premiere sometime this spring. The car chosen by Engage Racing was BMW M’s best-selling product in 2022 and 2023.
Some may recall that the Pikes Peak race didn’t end well for BMW last year when Performance Chief Driving Instructor Matt Mullins crashed the XM Label Red. Despite the setback, BMW USA and Mullins returned to Colorado Springs a few months later to redo the run. The hill climb was completed in 10 minutes and 48.6 seconds, setting a record for hybrid SUVs. However, the 738-horsepower luxobarge wasn’t fast enough to dethrone the Lamborghini Urus, which currently holds the title for the fastest SUV at Pikes Peak with a time of 10 minutes and 32 seconds.
Source: BMW Romania