Mini John Cooper Works

It may not be the official WRC team nor the actual big leagues of the WRC, it is a FIA sanctioned rally against real competitors. And it’s also the first time a MINI has won on this stage in almost four decades. Here are the details courtesy of

>Driven by the Italian Andrea Navarra, the Prodrive-developed machine triumphed on Rally dell’Adriatico, the opening round of the Italian Gravel Rally Championship near Ancona on Italy’s Adriatic coast last weekend.

(Video after the break)

>Running with a 30-milimetre restrictor (as opposed to a 33mm version) to conform to the FIA’s Regional Rally Car regulations to balance the performance with normally aspirated Super 2000 cars, Navarra led from start to finish. Co-driven by Simona Fedeli, he completed the 100-kilometre competitive route with a margin of 12.6 seconds over Andreas Mikkelsen’s conventional Skoda Fabia S2000.

>“It’s a great honour for me to give MINI this first victory with Pirelli tyres and another milestone in our history together,” said Navarra. “It was a fantastic rally that was competitive from start to finish: we had to push hard but in the end we got the result that we wanted. I really enjoyed driving the car: the turbo engine means that you can drive with the throttle all the time compared to a conventional Super 2000 car, where you are driving with the gears.”

>Although he’s not eligible for points, Navarra will return to the Italian Gravel series – known as the Trofeo Rally Terra – with the Grifone team on Rally Costa Smeralda on 6/7 May. The event runs behind the main world championship rally in Sardinia where MINI will mark the debut of the World Rally Car version of its John Cooper Works.

>In addition to Navara’s machine, a handful of other Super 2000 MINIs are likely to be in action on the national-level Rally Costa Smeralda next month.

Hat tip to Axis of Oversteer.