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LAP Motorsports Spearheading MINI TCR Project

MINI moving forward with joining TCR ranks for 2018…

Photo: IMSA

MINI is moving forward with plans to join the growing list of manufacturers building cars for TCR competition, partnering with IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge entrant LAP Motorsports to develop the car ahead of a planned 2018 debut.

LAP has a strong history of success with MINI in the Continental Tire Challenge under the MINI JCW Team moniker since entering the series in 2014.

With the support of MINI USA, the Brownsburg, Ind.-based team began the process of designing a TCR car in January and has already developed the brake system and gearbox, the latter of which will be provided by Xtrac.

According to team principal Luis Perocarpi, the lingering question that needs answering before the project can move to the next step is deciding which model MINI would like to see representing its brand on track.

“We obviously had an interest in TCR because we were looking at the future for MINI and us,” Perocarpi told Sportscar365. “We literally started the TCR project in January of this year.

“We didn’t know much at the time because there wasn’t a partnership between IMSA and TCR until the last couple of months, so we weren’t getting a lot of answers, but we started the project anyway.

“We’ve submitted all of our paperwork to TCR, we have all of the approvals from MINI USA.”

Perocarpi said they’ve yet to finalize whether the car will be based on MINI’s Hardtop 4-Door or the Clubman.

“We started the project thinking we’d run the hard-top four-door, but that’s a bit of a challenge because the car is shorter than what the regs require, although we do understand that there are several cars in TCR that haven’t met that requirement.

“MINI still has other cars like the Clubman that fits right into the regs… At the end of the day, what does MINI want to do? 

“[TCR cars] are built to regs so every car will be competitive so we’re not worried about which car we build.”

The arrangement figures to be a boon for the LAP outfit, which would find itself slotted in as the exclusive constructor of all MINI TCR race cars internationally.

“The way TCR regs work, there’s one car builder per brand,” Perocarpi said. “That car builder has to have manufacturer support. Anyone who wants to buy a MINI, they would end up having to buy it from us.

“If you want to buy a Honda, you have to buy it from JAS in Europe. Even HPD has to do that. If you want an Audi, you have to go to Audi Sport. That’s how it goes.”

Perocarpi said that while the project is backed by MINI USA, he expects international teams to take interest in the platform given the success of manufacturers like Audi and Honda have had finding customers for their TCR offerings.

He added that the TCR program would not affect the team’s continued involvement in the ST class, noting continued demand from drivers and other team partners.

Given his deep personal roots with the brand, Perocarpi said pursuing the TCR project is a gratifying, sensible next step for his team.

“I’m a MINI owner from before the race team,” he said. “The first car I remember seeing was my dad’s classic MINI. I’m a car guy, but I’ve always had a little bit of an attraction to the MINIs in my normal life.

“When I started my team, it worked out that a brand that I liked wanted to go racing. We’ve done quite good things in ST, and it’s been a great relationship right now.

“We’ve been running really strong and we’ve been selling a lot of cars lately. We’re a racing group of guys and we have a great relationship with MINI.

“We’ll race whatever we can with MINI, whatever class is available. TCR has always been an interesting project. MINI USA is interested, so here we are potentially having a MINI in TCR.”

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Sir Skidsalot

    August 7, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Cool, I’m looking forward to new cars from Ford and other next year too. Too bad we’ll be losing the Miata when they go to TCR only. Does anyone know if they have a Mazda 3 for TCR, or anything planned?

    • JERACERX

      August 7, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      They’re not getting rid of ST next year, there’ll be 3 classes now

      • Bakkster

        August 7, 2017 at 3:57 pm

        Not next year, but I thought the current plan is ST will go away in 2019 unless teams start building cars for it again.

    • guest

      August 7, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      Rumor is that Mazda will be waiting for the Mazda3 refresh before offering. I think that is 2019 as well.

  2. P

    August 7, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    CTSC having 3 classes will be interested, TCR especially.

    Mini is the last manufacture I expected to go to TCR, Looking forward to seeing what they have up their sleeve.

    Mini is going to be joining the likes SEAT, Audi, Ford, Subaru, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Alfa Romeo and Volkswagen.

    Hopefully we could also see the likes of Chevrolet, BMW and Volvo joining TCR.

    Chevrolet and BMW have a great history in the touring cars. Wonder why BMW and Chevy didn’t go to TCR sooner.

    • Raphael

      August 7, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      BMW, at present, doesn’t have any FWD cars, and TCR rules dictate that all cars competing must have at power going to the Front Wheels. Subaru has 50/50 drive, so if all power is diverted to the front wheels, its eligible. Chevy on the other hand, Has pulled out of Europe with the Exception of both Corvette and Camaro models.

      Car from the makes of SEAT, Peugeot/Citroen/DS/Opel/Vauxhall, are not sold in the U.S. (At least not until 2020). and certain models of brands that ARE sold in the states such as Alfa and Kia are not sold in the states either. (Specifically the Alfa Giulietta and Kia Ceed).

      Plus, Volvo is not interested in TCR, and instead focusing on the STCC; One or the Other.

      You can, however, expect potential entries from makes such as Nissan, Toyota, Mazda.

      • thomas

        August 8, 2017 at 10:53 am

        Not quite. Volvo are not actually competing in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship despite most of the races being in Sweden. They do however compete in the World Touring Car Championship.

    • Passager

      August 8, 2017 at 6:19 am

      Although BMW has had FWD cars now, they need to give room for Mini as same company. Buick doesnt have any racing sport now, Chevrolet doesnt sell cruze in euro anymore. If GM wants to join TCR, they can bring Opel TCR with Buick badge in America.

      • Gor

        October 27, 2017 at 7:26 pm

        Opel no longer has GM.
        They sold the brand for the PSA Group

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