It’s here. A MINI six years in the making. The next generation follow up to MINI’s most R53: the JCW GP. The family resemblance is immediately recognizable. The colors, the graphics and the aggressive body pieces. The formula is the same. More power, less weight and more performance refinement. Right about now in the south of France, MINI is drawing the curtain back on this car in the flesh. Gabe and Todd are on-hand and I’m sure we’ll see their in-person shots any moment. In the meantime, here are the official photos.

Gallery: MINI John Cooper Works GP

Click past the jump for the official summary from MINI.

[Official Release]

Big on performance, small in number: The MINI John Cooper Works GP.

  • Fastest MINI ever built
  • extensive use of motorsport technology
  • Best lap of the Nürburgring-Nordschleife: 8 min. 23 sec.
  • Preview at the 2012 MINI United Festival
  • Production limited to 2,000 cars

Only once has there been anything like it, but even that wasn’t as quick. With the new MINI John Cooper Works GP, the British premium brand has come up with another car of exceptional talent designed to deliver extreme performance on both the race track and the road. The sportiest road- registered MINI ever made will go on sale later this year in a limited run of 2,000 cars.

The MINI John Cooper Works GP is currently completing a program of testing in preparation for series production, part of which has involved setting an impressive fastest lap of the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit ever achieved in a MINI. The MINI John Cooper Works GP lapped the Grand Prix course in 8 min. 23 sec. In so doing, the new model has put clear asphalt between itself and numerous sports cars from loftier perches – and beat the lap time set by its predecessor, the MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit, by almost 19 seconds.

Underpinning the performance characteristics of the MINI John Cooper Works GP is exclusive powertrain, chassis and aerodynamics technology inspired directly by motorsport. Its twin-scroll turbo engine generates outstanding torque, displays remarkable elasticity and demonstrates a healthy appetite for revs. The specially developed, adjustable race suspension channels this superlative output into spectacular yet precisely controllable handling.

As well as being undeniably imposing visually, the design of the body also gives the MINI John Cooper Works GP ideal aerodynamic balance in extreme driving situations – a key element in delivering that handling flair. Large front and rear aprons, striking side skirts and a bespoke roof spoiler are complemented by a newly developed rear diffuser which optimizes airflow around the underbody. The interior of the MINI John Cooper Works GP also contributes to the car’s inspirational racing feeling; with the rear seats removed, it focuses unashamedly on the needs of the driver and co-driver.

Concentrated motorsport expertise – faithfully embodied at MINI by its John Cooper Works sub-brand – is the not-so-secret ingredient in the MINI John Cooper Works GP recipe. The “GP” tag on the model title tells you exactly where the extreme sports edition of the compact MINI most tellingly reveals its potential. The GP’s chassis configuration, the effectiveness of its race-spec braking system, the grip offered by its likewise bespoke racing tires, and its aerodynamic properties have been honed into a high-performance whole on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife circuit, the erstwhile venue for Formula One races and lauded as the world’s most challenging race track.

The unadulterated transfer of motorsport expertise into the everyday driving environment has history at MINI; it was this approach that made the MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit the epitome of extreme driving fun in a small car when it was unveiled in 2006. The previous generation’s output of 214 hp in the U.S. (134 hp per liter of displacement) and similarly impressive reserves of racing technology have secured its status as a sought-after collector’s item today.

The new MINI John Cooper Works GP follows eagerly in the tire tracks of its predecessor – and with an even greater spring in its step. It will be in similarly short supply, as the world will have to make do with just 2,000 units, and that will include cars to be sold in the U.S. Final performance figures will be announced closer to launch, along with pricing and the volume allocated for U.S customers.

Hosting the preview of the new model is another Grand Prix race track with history etched into every corner. The MINI John Cooper Works GP will be unveiled publicly for the first time at Le Castellet in France, during the MINI United festival on May 11-13, 2012.

[Source: MINI]