Mini John Cooper Works GP Boasts Impressive Nürburgring Time Despite Being Not Yet Fully Baked

In conjunction with the 24 Hours of Nürburgring this past weekend, Mini presented a lightly-disguised John Cooper Works GP well before its scheduled on-sale date in 2020. With more than 300 horsepower on tap, the new JCW GP is almost half a minute faster than its predecessor around the Nordschleife.

While development tuning is still in process, the JCW GP lapped the “Green Hell” in less than 8 minutes. While that is impressive for any front-wheel-drive hot hatch, it will inevitably be compared to the 7:43.80 that was set by the Civic Type R. Whether it reaches that figure or not, it shares outlandish design style and boy-racer looks with the Type R.

The winged fenders feature deep reliefs cut into them. I’m struggling to envision the aerodynamic purpose of this design, though I hope there is a rational explanation. Maybe to control the airflow down the side of the car? If they’re a pre-cursor to 4-inch extensions for TCR racecar bodywork, then I’m OK with that. The fenders almost made me overlook the cartoonish spoiler over the rear hatch.

Ultimate performance of the JCW GP will depend significantly upon tire selection. The demonstration car was fitted with Hankook Ventus S1 Evo Z *star* tires. The current Ventus S1 Evo line of tires falls into the Tire Rack’s “Ultra High Performance Summer” category, which would be typical for an OE summer performance tire. There are still the “Max Performance Summer”, “Extreme Performance Summer”, and “Streetable Track & Competition” categories above that. We’ve seen many performance cars fitted with tires like the Pirelli P Zero Corsa or Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 to simply set a blistering lap time.

It is possible that the JCW GP will be offered with another tire that prioritizes track performance, as that is kind of the point of this version of the car. I suspect that they’ll need it if they hope to chase down the Civic Type R’s Nürburgring time. As for the “star”, that generally means that the tire was specifically designed for a particular vehicle application. The reality is that many OE tires are specifically tuned for the vehicle that they come on and aftermarket replacements may not be identical, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Three-thousand of the John Cooper Works GP models will be produced, which represents a 50 percent jump over the 2,000 offered in each of the prior two generations.

[Images: MINI USA]

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