Official MINI Press Release:
Interview with Ludwig Willisch, Director German Region of the BMW Group.
The MINI CHALLENGE is entering its fourth season. So what has happened since 2004?
Like the MINI itself, the MINI CHALLENGE has become a unique story of success. The Series is now a regular highlight in motorsport Ã¢â‚¬â€œ indeed, it has even created its own niche in the market. And offering a unique symbiosis of Clubsport and lifestyle, the MINI CHALLENGE is indeed unparalleled.
Choosing the most outstanding events for the races Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including one DTM and two Formula 1 events this year Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we clearly stand out from other brand cups and boast our own unique profile with that authentic MINI character. Precisely this is honoured and respected by everybody involved, as we see once again when considering the new record-breaking starter grid in the 2007 season.
How would you describe the particular flair of the MINI CHALLENGE?
The ambience so characteristic of the MINI CHALLENGE is made up of many features and elements. And despite all the competition so important and, indeed, appropriate in motorsport, the sheer fun of driving an exceptional car and enjoying a common passion obviously comes right in the foreground
in the MINI CHALLENGE.
This feeling of being “one big family” is also borne out by the unique service concept, with all participants enjoying the amenities of the Driver’s Club in the pits area. MINI CHALLENGE hospitality, in turn, is offered in the Paddock Lounge, combining all-round catering with a wonderful, relaxed feeling of enjoyment and “being at home”. That’s what we call MINI all the way!
How much does the success of the MINI brand contribute to the
The philosophy of the MINI brand also means doing many things a bit differently from others Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and this also applies to the MINI CHALLENGE, which is an absolutely excellent tool to “infect” people with that unique MINI “bug”.
A point particularly important to us from the start was to include our sales partners in the entire process: Nearly all cars raced in the MINI CHALLENGE are serviced by Dealer Teams, who invite their customers to various races
and use the Series as a kind of forum for advertising and customer retention.
Is the MINI CHALLENGE exclusive to Germany?
No, a number of countries have discovered the thrill of the MINI CHALLENGE in the meantime and have imported our concept. So what we started in Germany back in 2004 has now become an international phenomenon.
This year we expect a new climax in that all-embracing world of the MINI at the MINI United Festival in Zandvoort near Amsterdam Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which is just like Woodstock for the MINI fan! In fact, even at the very first event of this kind in autumn 2005, thousands of MINI enthusiasts from all over the world went
to Misano in Italy for a truly unique experience.
Interview with Alexander Burgstaller, MINI CHALLENGE Ambassador.
How does the MINI CHALLENGE stand out from other racing series?
In my career as a professional racing driver I have entered all kinds of racing series Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but I’ve never seen or experienced anything like the MINI CHALLENGE. One point is that in motorsport you’re often alone with your team, while the MINI CHALLENGE brings us all together as a big family, with all participants sharing the same unique spirit.
Another big difference versus other brand cups is the combination of lifestyle and motorsport: Once you’ve been there and you’ve experienced the particular flair of the MINI CHALLENGE, you’ll be thrilled forever.
How does the MINI drive as a racing car?
Even the road-going version of the MINI is a sporting experience of the highest standard Ã¢â‚¬â€œ pure joy of driving all the way. And in racing trim the MINI gives you an incredibly direct feeling of the track quite comparable with the unique experience of driving a go-kart. A further point is that our cars are real power machines.
The particular sign of distinction is that the MINI CHALLENGE, through its rules and regulations, gives all drivers absolutely the same chance of winning, which really adds excitement to the entire event: When you’re out there amid a huge pack of 37 competitors driving cars absolutely identical in technical terms and with exactly the same engine power, fighting for the best position, there simply have to be spectacular duels and very competitive races.
What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming season?
The two races taking place on the occasion of major Formula 1 events will certainly be among the highlights of the season Ã¢â‚¬â€œ clearly, it’s always very special to be out there on the track with the huge Formula 1 crowd looking on. But I’m also looking forward to our first race taking place this time at the DTM Masters in Hockenheim, Germany, where we’ll have the opportunity to win over touring car experts on the grandstand in thrilling manoeuvres while racing for the MINI CHALLENGE.
The MINI United Festival in Zandvoort will of course be a very special event in its own right. First, because it will bring together real MINI aficionados from all over Europe; second, because in Zandvoort we are all on our own, highlighting the MINI CHALLENGE as such and not racing on the occasion of some other motorsport series. So in Zandvoort our races themselves will be the sporting climax of the entire event.