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Prodrive Aims to Add Global Rallycross Victory to Trophy Case in Charlotte

September 22, 2013
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On Sunday, Prodrive will field its own independent entry in a Global Rallycross event for the first time at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. The fabled English organization, winners of over 200 races and championships in various forms of motorsport, will field Dave Mirra in the #40 PUMA MINI on Sunday.

Prodrive has been involved with GRC since X Games Barcelona in May, building the car that Liam Doran took to two medals in Munich. But while the physical car and hauler are the same that Doran has taken across the globe, the staff and entry are independent of Doran’s team members this weekend.

“The format of Global Rallycross is really attractive,” said Alan McGuinness, the motorsports and operations manager for Prodrive’s MINI racing program. “It’s a new thing, and we’re getting used to it. When we do World Rally events, we’ve got our year planned out exactly when and where we’re going. But with Global Rallycross it’s been refreshing, because the schedule is quite tight, there have been some changes, and it’s been a big learning curve. But it’s quite a good challenge, and it’s sparked everyone up.”

Prodrive’s history is common knowledge to much of the motorsports world, from its successes running the Subaru World Rally Team, to the Aston Martin GT program, to turning the British American Racing Formula 1 team into a truly competitive outfit. The particular MINI that Prodrive have entered this weekend has a storied history of its own—everything from World Rally events to the British version of Top Gear, where it attempted an Olympic ski jump. But from course to course, the car that Mirra will drive on Sunday has seen some major changes since its time in the WRC.

“Visually, they’re really similar,” McGuinness admitted. “We take the headlights out, and this car isn’t road legal, but basically it’s the same layout. We’ve moved the radiators to the back to protect them and the engine has a big step in horsepower because we don’t have as many restrictions. We run a throttle cable here because it’s part of the regulations.

“We’ve targeted running a 1.6 turbo engine on this, we’ve worked very hard on the chassis to make the car easy to drive, and we’re right on the weight limit. So there are the key areas of performance that make the car different from the World Rally car.”

Doran, of course, took medals in his first two events with the MINI, but has been consistently quick in seeding sessions and practices beforehand. The partnership with Mirra has worked so far as well; the MINI has been faster than any other car on track, winning Saturday’s practice session by over a second and a half.

“Dave is a fit, awesome, competitive athlete,” touted McGuinness. “His mindset is all about winning. We were very lucky to have a good test day on Thursday, and we’ve got him dialed into it. It’s showing really good, encouraging signs.

“The main difference is, with Liam, he knows exactly what he wants in the setup and the car, he knows what he wants in his own mind, he goes out, and he does it. We have a slightly different strategy here with Dave—he’s got to learn the car, he’s tightening up his driving and trying to be more consistent. We’re not so much working with the setup of the car with Dave, we’re trying to help him understand it more and make it work for him.”

After spending his entire career driving Subarus prepared by Vermont SportsCar, the change has been refreshing for Mirra as well.

“Coming over here and having the opportunity to drive Liam’s car, and to meet the Prodrive the guys for the first time, is unbelievable,” said Mirra. “These guys are great, they’re doing an amazing job, and I’m on cloud nine, to be honest.”

Besides running in Global Rallycross in Charlotte this weekend, Prodrive is also at Circuit of the Americas, the future host of X Games Austin, for the International Sports Car Weekend with its Aston Martin GT squad. Prodrive cars qualified first and third in class for today’s six-hour World Endurance Championship race.

“Prodrive’s pretty empty at the minute,” McGuinness explained. “We’ve got pretty much everybody in America. Dave’s put in a pretty good performance, with five consistent laps, and that’s a good day at the office for us. With the Aston Martin team, we were on pole in Austin, so it’s on the drivers. We’re relying on them to do a good job.

“But we’re really happy so far.”

Photo credit: John Davison/RIS-News.com (1); QBA/QNIGAN.com (3); Matthew Kalish (4)

Image via Prodrive (2)

Categories: Features