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by Matt Brogan

Thirty-three years after it won the Bathurst endurance event outright, a new Mini Cooper has returned to victory lane at Mt Panorama.

Not since 1966 when the Morris Cooper S of Finn Rauno Aaltonen and Aussie Bob Holden won the Gallagher 500 mile event has a Mini won an event at the famed home of Australian motorsport, but last week, a special Mini conquered its own lofty goal.

A showroom standard Mini Cooper D completed the race distance of 1000km – 161 laps of the 6.2km circuit – on a single 40-litre tank; a remarkable achievement given the circumstances and parameters of the challenge.

The target was to achieve 1000km around the Mt Panorama circuit during a normal public day, negotiating the typical rigours of the public day, such as residential and tourist traffic, wildlife and, significantly, the 60km/h maximum speed limit.

Devised by Tarmac magazine, the test involved driving the Mini Cooper D around Bathurst’s hills and dips on a single tank. With a combined city/freeway fuel consumption figure of 3.9L/100km, the theoretical range of 1025km meant the biggest question hung over whether the 174m vertical climb each lap would greatly affect the consumption.

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Starting at 7am and finishing almost 17 hours later, the Mini Cooper D remained below 2500rpm the entire day, and used its gearshift-suggester and instantaneous fuel use gauge to good effect, helping to refine driving styles throughout the test and stretching the single tank to the absolute limit.

Two drivers rotated through the pilot seat three times during the endurance test, limited by their bodies fuel systems rather than the car’s. And during every stop, the Mini’s stop-start technology ensured there was no wasted fuel.

National manager for Mini, Justin Hocevar praised the efforts of the Mini Cooper D, and the feat, saying:

“Bathurst holds a significant place in MINI history and this recent achievement is yet another victory for Mini. Whilst the Mini Cooper D is all about maximising efficiency this does not come at the expense of performance, which is very unique in the small car arena.”

Tarmac magazine editor Dean Evans was also enthused about the project:

“Though Tarmac is a performance magazine, we wanted to prove you can still have fun with eco cars. The Mini Cooper D combines the two ideally. Its history at the track was simply a bonus.

“We also knew the Cooper’s handling would help a lot and though 60km/h was our maximum legal speed, we held 60 through even the tightest corners of Mt Panorama, maintaining corner speed and minimise throttle input. Many people thought we were crazy, but we just like to do things a little differently – a bit like Mini itself.”

The Mini Cooper D achieved a remarkable 161 laps of Mt Panorama at a distance of 1001.7km on the single 40-litre tank.

For a full review click Mini Cooper D review.

With Tarmac Magazine and BMW Australia.




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