Tag Archives: Countryman

US Dollars One Million Four Hundred Thousand – Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 Racing

Time was when one used to ask for an apple one would get a piece of fruit, these day’s one might just as likely get a box of completely inedible micro chips.

Back then if one asked for a mini one would either get a short skirt or an extremely small car which drivers over 6 feet tall might have to drive with their knees around their ears, nowadays with the right financial credentials one might just as likely get a Hummer like 6 foot tall Dakar Rally leviathan known as the Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 Racing.

Apart from a vague likeness to the overall shape of the Mini Cooper Countryman street car developed by BMW and Mini John Cooper Works WRC rally car developed by Prodrive, the Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 Racing has little in common with it’s street or competition siblings aside from the badges, door handles, windscreen and lights that decorate the carbon fibre body.

Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 Racing, Goodwood, Festival of Speed.co.uk

The chassis for the T1.2 class Rally Raid All 4 Racing is a steel frame designed and constructed by Heggemann Autosport GmbH in Büren not far from Paderborn / Lippstadt Airport in Germany.

The double wishbone suspension with twin titanium shock absorbers on each corner has 8 inches / 203 mm of travel and the wheels can be changed in three mins with the aid of the on board jacking system.

The T1.2 Rally Raid class is for all wheel drive vehicles powered by diesel motors which in this application takes the form of a 3 litre / 183 cui twin turbocharged 6 cylinder dry sumped motor built for BMW Motoren GmbH by Magna Steyr in in Oberwaltersdorf, Austria, that when fitted with the mandatory 38mm / 1.49 inch air restrictor produces just over 300hp, the roof scoop is for the intercooler fitted behind the drivers compartment.

Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 Racing, Goodwood, Festival of Speed.co.uk

With a six speed sequential gearbox the All4 racing, that weighs a hefty 2.5 tonnes when fully kitted out with; 400 litres / 89 gallons Imp / 105 gal US, three spare tyres, spare drive shaft kept in a compartment below the floor and everything else mandated for survival and safety, can reach 60mph from rest in six seconds and a top speed of 110mph off road.

The whole car is put together and run by the X-Raid Team based in Trebur-Astheim Germany that is owned by Sven Quandt, a member of the family that has the majority stake holding of BMW shares.

The team first ran it’s Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 Racing cars that eventually replaced it’s BMW X3 CC Rally Raid vehicles, in 2011 winning the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with Stephane Peterhansel and Baja Portalegre 500 with Filipe Campos.

Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 Racing, Goodwood, Festival of Speed.co.uk

The following year Stéphane Peterhansel and France Jean-Paul Cottret led home team mates Nani Roma and Michel Périn to win the Dakar Rally with Stéphane going on to win the Baja Spain round of the FIA World Cup Cross Country Rally championship.

In 2013 Stéphane won his sixth Dakar Rally driving a car matching the six times he won it on a motorcycle, again with Jean-Paul in the co drivers seat of the winning All4 Racing.

Spaniard Joan “Nani” Roma Cararach (Nani Roma) partnered by Frenchman Michel managed to pip the 2012 / 2013 winners the following year when Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah and Spaniard Lucas Cruz made it an All4 Racing lock out on the podium.

Mini Cooper Countryman ALL4 Racing, Goodwood, Festival of Speed.co.uk

In 2015 2011 winner Nasser now partnered by Matthieu Baumel steered their All4 Racing to victory on the Dakar.

The models 4 year reign of dominance on the Dakar was brought to an end by Peugeot with Nasser and Matthieu bringing their All 4 Racing in 2nd behind their former team mates Stéphane and Jean-Paul.

In amazing show of strength in depth and reliability in 2013 11 Mini Cooper Countryman All4 Racings, reckoned to cost around € 1 million / US$ 1.4 million each, were entered in the Dakar Rally and all 11 finished inside the top 20.

Thanks for joining me on this “US Dollars One Million Four Hundred Thousand” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again for Mercedes Monday tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Straight and True – Austin A40 Countryman

For the first official post at the new home of GALPOT I thought it might be appropriate to go back to the birth place of my passion for the automobile and for driving by having a look at an Pinin Farina styled Austin A40 Countryman.

Austin A40 Countryman, Goodwood Revival

I was 5 years old when my Folks purchased their first car I remember going to the offices of the British Motor Corporation in Nicosia, Cyprus and looking through seemingly countless brochures full of illustrations of two tone motor cars when we went to order it. The car Dad ordered was grey with a white roof his thinking being that the colours would reflect the fierce Mediterranean sunlight and help keep the interior of the car just a little cooler. The car came with red vinyl seats and red carpets.

Austin A40 Countryman, Goodwood Revival

I’ll never forget my excitement when Dad pulled into our grapevine dappled drive for the first time with our shiny new car registered CE 270, we spent what seemed like hours pouring over the details I mistook the shiny chrome heater control panel for a radio and learned where to find the spark plugs, distributor, the spare wheel and jacking tools. Seems incredible to think now that our Austin hatchback was not supplied with any seat belts, though it was not long after we got it that Dad had some fitted to the front seats.

Austin A40 Countryman, Goodwood Revival

Over the ensuing two years we explored the ancient history of Cyprus from north to south and east to west, but best of all most Sundays of the summer we loaded up a picnic, home made awning, swimming goggles, flippers, buckets and spades and then headed to Mckenzie Beach, just outside Larnaca, where all our neighbours and my school friends would be. That beach is particularly important to me because one Sunday Dad invited me to sit on his lap in the drivers seat and steer the car. My first lesson being that you could drive it straight and true without any input to the steering wheel at all.

Austin A40 Countryman, Goodwood Revival

Without any navigation skills most of the time I spent in the car was naturally on the back seat, in fact I probably spent as much time sitting astride the transmission tunnel where, although exterior view was limited, I used to pretend I was riding a motor bike ! In 1966 when Dad got posted back to the UK our little grey A40 Countryman was loaded onto a ship and we headed for Istanbul and then Athens where the car was unloaded. From Athens we started our first road trip driving over 2,500 miles through Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungry, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and a bit of France on our way to London.

Austin A40 Countryman, Goodwood Revival

The last time I saw our A40 Countryman, called Daisy, now with the UK registration DHM 44D was 3 years after we sold it, the hours of fun we had on the beach were telling in the large areas of bubbled paintwork under which rust seeded by the Mediterranean sea had obviously terminally taken hold of the bodywork on our now eight year old A40 Countryman.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Straight And True’ edition of ‘Getting’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Thunder In The Hills – Mendips Raceway

Last Sunday after I had dropped friends off at the airport I found myself with some unscheduled time on my hands. Normally I might have sauntered home to watch what remained of the Belgian GP but when I got to the roundabout of decision I headed in the opposite direction from home and went on a little drive through Somerset.


After a couple of deviations from the main road I came to a tiny sign saying ‘STOCK CAR RACING’, I needed no encouragement to follow it and ended up at Mendips Raceway.

Mendips Raceway

Mendips Raceway turns out to be my local paved oval located between Shipham and Charterhouse it caters for the four formulae which collectively are often referred to as Banger racers.

Mendips Raceway

The Mendips Raceway oval, opened in 1969, dips to the east with an optional figure of 8 configuration. This year fourteen dates comprised the fixture list.

Mendips Raceway

Races are started behind a pace car with drivers starting positions usually in reverse championship or reverse previous race order.

Ford Mondeo, Mendips Raceway

This series I Ford Mondeo served as both Pace Car and Victory Parade car on Saturday.

Andy Russel, Aaron Charles, Mendips Raceway

The entry level into banger racing is known as Junior Rods featuring vehicles with engines up to 1000cc / 61 cui such as the Mini’s of #14 Andy Russell and #7 Aaron Charles. Junior Rods are a strictly non contact form of banger racing aimed at attracting competitors aged 11 -16.

Liam Rowe, Mendips Raceway

BriSCA Formula 2 can trace it’s origins back to 1960 when a formula for heavily armoured, usually self built cars weighing 650 kgs / 1430 lbs was introduced. Today these cars maybe powered either by Ford Pinto or Ford Duratec motors. Contact between vehicles is permitted in F2 though Liam Rowe was probably wondering if it was worth it as his front wheels get airborne. Note unlike the closed wheel cars which turn right F2 cars turn left.

#14 Sam Holdings, Mendips Raceway

Finally there were several heats and a final for Rookie Bangers in which almost anything appears to go as #41 Sam Holdings finds out on the way to winning the Rookie Bangers trophy.

Thunderbird 1 & 4,  Mendips Raceway

After the races four tractors, named Thunderbirds 1 to 4 were used to clear up the mess. Thunderbird 1 is seen pushing Adrian hearts Mondeo and pulling Lee Dalton’s Ford Cortina to the paddock, where repairs were made, and both cars started further races !

Mushwacker, Mendips Raceway

Having a lifting crane on your transporter can make access to vehicles for routine maintenance and repairs easier tasks. Note the driver of the #721 Mushwacker is powered down ‘a la’ Jimmy Johnson at Texas in Fall 2010.

Austin A40 Countryman, Mendips Raceway

Car of the day for me was this Pininfarina designed Austin A40 Countryman, a car of the type I first steered on a beach while sitting on my old mans lap aged all of 5, this one being a tad over enthusiastically pedalled by Dan Steeds who got himself black flagged from one of the Junior Rods races for avoidable contact.

Thanks for joining me on this Banger edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !