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Quadruple win for MINI at Rally Morocco

From MINI: Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel (QT/FR) in their MINI ALL4 Racing car have won the prestigious Rally Morocco, the ninth round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The X-raid drivers have shown a dominant performance over six legs, on which the participants covered a total of 1991 kilometres. 1441 of them in special stages. Al-Attiyah/Baumel won three stages and crossed the finish line in the capital of Marrakesh ahead of Monster Energy X-raid driver Orlando Terranova and Rolando Graue (AR/AR).

Erik van Loon/Wouter Rosegaar (NL/NL) finished the Rally Morocco in 3rd place, scoring their best result of the season so far. Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RU/RU) crossed the finish line in 4th position, defending their lead in the World Cup classification. The next and final round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies will be the Baja Portugal (30 October – 02 November).

MotoringFile has the full story here.

From hitchiker to Miniac

From MINI Space: It all started in 2009. Inga was hitchhiking through Europe when she came across the members of the Italian Mini & Moto Maniaci Club, which was on its way to Birmingham for the International Mini Meeting. They provided an enthusiastic account of this unique meeting of the MINI community which is organised by the MINI Clubs and has been held at a different location every year since the 1970s.

Inga decided there and then to join them and has never looked back. “I felt really welcome and met lots of people from all over the world who have now become good friends,” she explained, referring to the first time she attended the largest MINI Club meeting. What started off as a “blind date” soon led to a great passion for MINI. Back in her homeland of Lithuania, Inga soon acquired her own classic Mini in which she could conquer the streets of the capital city, Vilnius. She also became a highly active member of the MiniPeople Club Lithuania which was founded in 2008.

Neumarkt in Germany 2010, St. Stephan in Switzerland 2011, Balatonfüred in Hungary 2012 – in the years that followed, Inga and the lads and lasses from her club were guaranteed attendees and never missed an International Mini Meeting. For Inga, it’s the combination of everything that counts: “These events are an ideal place for swapping stories, cultivating friendships, donning your most outlandish outfit or getting inspiration for your MINI.”

At the 2013 meeting held in the Italian city of Mugello, Inga had the opportunity to look behind the scenes of the event for the first time. To support the organisation, her and her friend Arnas specifically moved to Italy for a year – together with baggage and Bumbulas the cat in her classic Mini.

With a great deal of enthusiasm and a fabulous plan of events, for Inga and her club it was a long-awaited dream come true. When the members came to vote on the venue for the next International Mini Meeting they chose Lithuania. Since then, preparations have been in full swing.

This year’s meeting in Kent was therefore the last opportunity to put it all to the test and it came as no surprise that the club hurried to England by three different means of transport – overland by car, across the Baltic Sea by ferry and by air on a plane.

Together with 4,000 other MINI and classic Mini fans, the members of the MiniPeople Club Lithuania pitched their tents at what must surely have been the most colourful campsite in the world in order to celebrate MINI’s 55th birthday.

The birthday celebration which took place at the Kent Showground was quite a party. From the meet and greet with the craziest MINI tinkerers and their cool Custom Cars to a private chat with MINI’s head designer Anders Warming. From burning tyres and hair-raising manoeuvres at the Stunt Show with Russ Swift, to perfectly polished wheel rims and the competition to find the flashiest classic Mini at the Glow Show.

You can find absolutely everything the heart of a true MINIac desires at an International Mini Meeting: from spare parts for the classic Mini to test drives in the new MINI.

Despite the fact that Inga has already attended her fifth International Mini Meeting, this year she will still be celebrating a first: “After stumbling across the celebration for MINI’s 50th birthday by chance when I was hitchhiking, my personal highlight at its 55th anniversary was being able to drive to it in my own classic Mini.”

Ready to make your own IMMpressions? Then get yourself to the next International Mini Meeting in Lithuania from 21st to 25th May 2015. In the lake district of the Zarasai region, you will be able to take over your own island together with thousands of other MINIacs. You can find the best tips for travelling to this impressive area here.

MINI Space has loads more photos here.
Visit the IMM website and book yourself a place in Lithuania here
Check out Sammieee’s gallery of photos from IMM 2014 here.
Check out Keith’s gallery of photos from IMM 2014 here.

Event – Minis by the Sea 2014

On Sunday 7th September Mini fans from across the South travelled to Steyne Gardens in Worthing for the annual Minis by the Sea event. Organised by the West Sussex Mini Owners club, the event is a small contained show held on the seafront attacking not just Miniacs but also casual tourists as well.

I travelled down to Worthing with a small convoy of cars from the Portsmouth and Southampton Mini Owners Club; one of the largest clubs in southern England. However, since MBTS is confined to a central square in what is largely a residential area we could only take six Minis. This is the same for every club; no matter how big or small you’re only taking six Minis!

We arrived at 8.30 and after parking up disappeared off for the traditional Mini show morning fried breakfast! Okay, the beans were cold but it sure did hit the spot! Then it was a case of wandering back to the show which we found was now in full swing. After the ceremonial sounding of the horns at 10:30, I set off to grab some photos using both my trusty iPhone 5c and Sammieee’s enormous and complicated DSLR! I spotted many familiar faces on my expedition including many from Surrey New MINI; a club with whom I often attend events.

The weather was marvellous for the whole day and I’m also indebted to Kaz and Nicki (two fellow members of P&SMOC) who returned from a lunchtime trip to a nearby Tesco with armfuls of sandwiches and cakes for us all to enjoy. Mini shows are as much about the people as the cars and although there were some popular club members missing due to work commitments, I still had a marvellous time. The only negative of the whole day was WSMOC’s choice of music. Guys, please stick some post-1979 music on your iPods!

Check out Keith’s gallery of photos here.
Check out Sammieee’s gallery of photos here.

MINI produces its three millionth MINI

From MINI: The continuing success story of the MINI brand was further underlined today as the British manufacturer announced the production of its three millionth car since 2001, and its two millionth international export

Relaunched in 2001 under the stewardship of the BMW Group, the MINI brand has become one of the most popular in the automotive world. It is a true British export success story with drivers in more than 110 markets falling in love with the famous marque from USA to Uruguay and Turkey to Taiwan. In the intervening 13 years, the MINI range has grown from one to seven models meaning that the brand can now offer a car to cater for all tastes and requirements.

The three millionth MINI to be produced is a 5-door Hatch Cooper S and has a special exterior design to celebrate its heritage and its British roots.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “I congratulate the workers at MINI Plant Oxford on reaching this remarkable milestone. The MINI is a British icon and is a major part of a thriving automotive industry spearheading the growing British economy. This government is working to create the right environment for car manufacturers like BMW to continue innovating and developing British-made cars with worldwide appeal.”

Investment in MINI UK Production Network A £750 million investment is underway across three of BMW Group’s UK manufacturing facilities. Highlights include a new 1,000-robot bodyshop at Plant Oxford and the installation of new body manufacturing technologies including laser welding at Plant Swindon. The Hams Hall engine plant is also being freshly equipped for a new generation of modular power units that will be manufactured at the company’s three global engine plants, with the Hams Hall plant supplying crankshafts to all these factories. These new engines, the new body and chassis structure and a completely refreshed design are combined in the all-new MINI.

“The MINI brand has had strong ties to the UK for decades. Our MINI production in Oxford represents a commitment to the brand’s identity, firmly in line with our successful strategy of “production follows the market”. Oxford is the centre of our British MINI production network, with the Swindon pressings plant and the Hams Hall engine plant near Birmingham,” stated Board of Management member for Production Harald Krüger at the event celebrating the production milestone. The UK is the second largest market for MINI in the world.

The two millionth export MINI to leave Plant Oxford is a Volcanic Orange MINI Hatch which is currently making its way across the ocean to its new customer in Japan. “Today, we mark two important milestones for MINI. Three million MINIs produced, and two million MINIs exported from Oxford to customers worldwide. These are impressive figures and definitely a reason to celebrate. In markets big and small, MINI has always appealed to customers on an emotional level,” said Board of Management member Peter Schwarzenbauer.

Frank Bachmann, managing director of MINI Plants Oxford and Swindon, said: “Everyone here is proud to be celebrating these two great milestones. The complexity of producing MINIs for individual customers in more than 110 markets around the globe is a real testimony to the expertise of our workforce.”

Motoring File have lots more photos here.

MINI ALL4 Racing prepares for the the Baja Poland

From MINI: No rest for the Monster Energy X-raid Team in the 2014 FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies as the reigning champion is sending no fewer than four cars to compete in the 2014 Baja Poland (28-30 August) barely two weeks after finishing second and third at the Hungarian Baja. With Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RU/RU) spearheading the overall standings in their MINI ALL4 Racing and two Polish drivers Krzysztof Holowczyc and Martin Kaczmarski competing in front of their home crowds in two other MINI ALL4 Racing, the Baja Poland promises to become a special World Cup round for the X-raid Team. The German duo Stephan Schott/Holm Schmidt completes the team’s four-car line-up in Poland.

World Cup leader Vasilyev on the challenges ahead: “Like in Spain and Hungary, our goal is to get more points in order to consolidate our overall lead in the World Cup standings. Even though the Bajas are short events, one needs to be extremely focused. The narrow, winding roads which are lined by trees, bushes or stones are unforgiving.”

Once again, all X-raid Team drivers at the Baja Poland will be in the MINI ALL4 Racing which has already successfully proven its mettle by winning the iconic Dakar Rally three times in a row (2012-2014). Ever since, the MINI ALL4 Racing, whose production car version is the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman, has also compiled an impressive World Cup record. The most recent two World Cup titles were also won by the MINI ALL4 Racing with its winning formula of reliability, strength and speed.

Baja Poland consists of a total of 522 competitive kilometres on three days. On Friday, the teams set out from the service park in Szczecin (PL) near the Baltic Sea and the German border for a timed prologue of eight kilometres. The Friday results set the starting order for the remaining two days. On Saturday, the itinerary consists of two special stages of 192 competitive kilometres each. After this, the service park relocates about 100 kilometres to the east and the city of Drawsko Pomorskie (PL). Here two more stages of 65 kilometres each will wrap up the 2014 Baja Poland.

MotoringFile has the full story and more photos here.

MINI to field four Dakar-style cars in FIA cross country rallies

From MINI: MINI and the Monster Energy X-raid Team face their next challenge in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies: For the seventh race of the season it’s off to Pápa (HU), where from 14 to 16 August the Baja Hungary will be held. After finishing in the first four places at the Baja Aragón recently, MINI and X-raid want to be successful in Hungary too.

In addition to Vladimir Vasilyev/Konstantin Zhiltsov (RU/RU), who still lead the world cup overall standings with a 51-point advantage over Yazeed Al Rahji (SA), X-raid and MINI will call on Orlando Terranova to race once again. The Argentinian contested the legendary Dakar Rally for X-raid in January, and at the Baja Aragón was only beaten by his team-mate Joan “Nani” Roma (ES).

Terranova will have a new co-driver at his side in Hungary, in the shape of Bernardo Ronaldo Graue (AR). The other two MINI ALL4 Racings have Krzysztof Holowczyc/Moi Torrallardona (PL/ES) and Aidyn Rakhimbayev/Anton Nicolaev (KZ/RU) behind the wheel.

The Baja Hungary will be held for the eleventh time this year. The cross country rally comprises a total of two legs covering 600 kilometres. This makes it one of the shortest events on the calendar. Five special stages on two days take the participants through extremely difficult terrain around the city of Pápa, about one hour’s drive to the north of Lake Balaton.

At the previous rallies in the Cross Country World Cup, the MINI ALL4 Racing has proved its speed and reliability on different terrain and in an impressive manner. At the Dakar Rally, the most difficult rally in the world, the racing version of the MINI John Cooper Works Countryman has already been victorious three times.

MotoringFile has more great pictures here.

Event: International Mini Meet 2014

International Mini Meetings are ‘must do’ on every Miniacs list. When I heard the 2014 IMM was to be held in Kent, England, I knew I had to make it as I’d never been to one. Due to work commitments and the fact I’m not a keen camper, I booked to attend just on the Sunday which would be celebrating Mini being 55 years old.

I knew plenty of people who were attending the whole event and kept up to date with their antics via Facebook. I became a little worried about the queues that they posted about and feared that Sunday could be extremely busy as it was advertised as one of the main days and the only day in which you could attend for the day.

When Sunday arrived, I met up with a number of the Surrey New MINI gang and convoyed to the show-ground. On our way in, there wasn’t a queue at all which was great news. However, when I spoke to a marshal and said I was with Surrey New MINI (the majority of whom were in front of me) he directed me to the Mini only parking outside the show rather than saying to follow the group. Thankfully, Keith was behind me in the line and managed to speak to another marshal who corrected the one I spoke to. Of course, I don’t need to tell you that me and Stripes just ignored the marshal I spoke with anyway. Stripes and I don’t park in Mini only, we want to be out on display as part of the show!

Once we were all directed into the club display area I become disappointed with our location. Right next to the toilets and almost the furthest away from the show and foot traffic. When I walked around the club display area, I noticed large gaps and the fact we were the only modern MINI’s there. Because we were in the corner, by the toilets, it almost felt like the modern MINIs were just pushed over there in an area no one else wanted. I say this as it is a very classic oriented event and there was plenty of room for us to display elsewhere.

Despite the unpleasant stand location, I set about cleaning Stripes as I can never just park up and walk off. She has to look as good as she can. After slaving away on her for half an hour or so, I made my way towards the traders area and spotted the fantastic MINI UK stand.

I was amazed at their display of classic Minis amongst the modern giving everyone a subtle history lesson as did the timeline behind the cars. There were a couple of freebies to give out which is always a bonus and gets everyone talking. Something I was unsure of was why they weren’t selling any of the merchandise. They had some on display but it wasn’t until afterwards, I found out they were not actually selling any. Slightly odd I feel as they would have made a fortune there!

They also had an F56 on a plinth which will be going on display at the BMW Museum. This F56 was covered in Mini shaped stickers which those who attended the show were invited to write on and stick onto the Mini.

Of course, with this Mini going on display, a little bit of advertising couldn’t be missed now could it!

Sat alongside the MINI UK stand was the local MINI Dealership; Arden Maidstone, who were giving test drives in a number of F56′s and R60′s. As long as people had their license, they could go out with one of the team for a 20 minute drive. Wonderful idea and I’m so pleased they got involved as it really added to the event and I’m sure they’ve gained some interest from doing so. Well done to the Arden MINI team and in particularly, to Charlotte who spoke to me while I was getting some photo’s and doing some product research. And my dealership say I don’t work on my days off! She spoke to me about working at MINI and even gave me a few pointers which was fully appreciated.

After spending too much time at the MINI UK stand, I set about getting some photo’s but to my utter disappointment, I couldn’t photograph over 3/4 of those that attended the show as they were in the zoned off camping area. Although I had my Mini Madnesss press gear on and begged like a puppy, I couldn’t get in and photograph any in the camping area because I didn’t have a wristband.

There were LOADS of minis out there that I’ve never seen before and if am honest, that was the whole point of me attending the show; to see minis I’ve never seen. If I had of known this before, it might have made me think twice about attending. I know it may have been a bit of a nightmare to organise and I acknowledge the amount of organisation and effort that went into the event, I can’t help but feel that perhaps those minis in the camping area should have been allowed to move and park out on display somewhere for the Sunday.

Something else that slightly frustrated me was the fact I couldn’t head out to the Mini parking to take photo’s of those either, for reasons I am unsure of. I’ve attended other shows and have been allowed to get out to see those in Mini only parking. Shows such as Brands Hatch Mini Festival and Beaulieu make Minis in the parking area just as much a part of the show. Even at the Big MINI Show last year, I was allowed out into the parking area to grab a few shots of the MINIs out there! Surely, if you had your ticket on you or the marshals had a hand stamp, you could have been allowed to take a gander at those if you wished?

The Minis that I had access to as a Sunday only visitor, I’ve seen before. Not that there were many of them, as they are local clubs just up for the day as well or were scattered amongst the large traders area or hidden away for people to stumble upon as they wondered around. For example, the Mini 55 area that also housed the Show and Shine, I didn’t find until later afternoon and almost just stumbled upon it when wandering about.

What made me extremely happy about the day was the large traders area and I was super impressed with what was on offer. I’ve never seen a traders area like this. It may sound silly but I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat after picking up some kick plates for Stripes from Idle Gear which I have enquired about, numerous times at many many shows before.

I also picked up little models of both of my Minis; Stripes and WinnieP and both in stunning boxes as well. Such a kid.

A big shoutout has to go to the guys at Magnetagz; Connor and Steve who are such diamonds. www.magnetagz.com. I met these two at the Big MINI Show last year and was extremely pleased to see them here and for them to both recognise me as well. After standing around and catching up with them, I purchased their brand new torches that sit on the cigarette light holder which is ideal for my Mum as she is a carer and needs to use a torch often. What makes these guys fantastic is how they will go the extra mile which was clearly seen when Steve told me on my second visit back that Connor had gone off looking for me as he didn’t remember giving me the torches.

At the end of the day, while I was talking it through with Keith and my Mum; Sheila, I mentioned how I almost felt like I was intruding on the event for the day and that there wasn’t that much of a show on the Sunday but more of a continuation for those who stayed the whole weekend. I praised the trade area as that was the best I’ve seen and I spent ages walking round everything and the variety was great.

Like all of my articles, I have to mention a few people that I met throughout the day especially new people. Ian West spotted me taking photos of his Clubman Estate. Here are a couple of shots of his wonderful Mini.

Finally, I met with Collin Peterson. I’ve photographed his Minis so many times before and spoken to him online but never seen him. I was delighted to see him near to Stripes on one of my ventures back and it was fantastic to finally meet in person. We spoke for a while about Minis and shows and I told him how I couldn’t wait to be on stand with the Mersey Mini Club and see everyone again.

And now, before I finish this long waffle, I have a confession. I did manage to get into the camping area in the end. But it was only with the help of Harry Harrison who asked me in advance if I could get some pictures of his Mini. I messaged him and told him how I couldn’t enter the camping area where his Mini was located and so he rushed to find me and see if he could get me in. We spoke to a lovely lady on one of the gates who gave me access for 5 minutes so that I could snap some photo’s for him. Massive thank you to both of them for doing so!

Check out Sammieee’s gallery of photos here.
Check out Keith’s gallery of photos here.

Mini Madness is a product of SammieeePhotography and Joe Steel Art and Photography. We bring Mini imaging from a range of Mini and classic car events.

Event: Oulton Park Mini Festival 2014

After the success of the Brands Hatch Mini Festivals that have been taking place for the past three years, MSV decided that they would hold a Mini Festival at the Oulton Park Circuit. Just like Brands, there would be traders, club displays, mini only parking, Russ Swift stunt shows and of course, plenty of racing on offer.

Despite the circuit being around 4 hours away from me, as soon as I heard this event was happening, I decided I was going. Not only was the circuit a fair distance away from me but it also was scheduled for the day after the Poole Quay Mini meeting! I also preferred to have Stripes on main display i.e. be parked on a club stand. Thankfully, the Mersey Mini Club allowed me to join them on their stands despite the fact that I’m obviously not local and haven’t been on a stand with them before.

Rather than find my way to a meet point organised by the Mersey lot, my co-pilot used his iPhone to direct us straight to the circuit for us to then find the club stand. Once parked up of course, the first thing to do is to start cleaning Stripes up. That MINI gets cleaned way too much anyway and I’m always spending ages once I’m at a show cleaning her but this time, she REALLY did need to be cleaned up after traveling 200+ miles.

While I had a cloth in hand, the rest of the Mersey Mini Club arrived and greeted me. It was so refreshing and encouraging to feel welcomed into a club in which I had only just joined up with. If you are local to them, I throughly recommend joining as they are wonderful people!

I had seen a few of the MINIs before at shows such as Mini in the Park and Big MINI Show last year. A few were very familiar to me as I follow a few of them on Instagram. It was really nice to actually now see these Minis in the metal and meet some of the owners.

One particular member of the Mersey lot made me feel very welcome and was my first point of contact with the club. Richard Gillmore. He is a credit to the club and because of his nature I accepted and displayed some of the leaflets on Stripes to advertise the club. I felt it was the least I could do for them.

Russ Swift had a total of three displays running throughout the day. I’d decided to watch the first of the day as it allowed some time for more Minis to arrive and fill out the grounds as well as giving me some time to ‘warm up’ on the photographing duties. As usual, Russ put on an amazing show using two F56′s. At the end of his show he invited people to come and grab a poster and if they wanted, he would sign them as well. I’d never turn down some free Mini merchandise and so made my way straight over to the large crowd.

Those used by Russ Swift were not the only F56′s being used as part of the show as the MINI Challenge had already prepared out an F56 Challenge MINI. This gave an insight into how the MINI Challenge line up will look like in the near future. The F56 on display was finished off in the brushed aluminum finish that we’ve seen in the F56 JCW concept photos as well as the images from the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Just like the Mini Festival at Brands Hatch, a grid walk had been scheduled for 1pm. I particularly love the fact that this had been brought into the events as it provides a different service from other Mini Shows. It is a great privilege to A) be allowed up close to the Challenge cars along with the drivers and B) to stand on such a famous motor racing circuit.

I made sure I was stood in the right place just before it was due to start in order to get as many photos as possible. I know! I managed to get Keith to queue up this time rather than just jump straight in like he did at Brands! Next to the gate that led to the grid stood the podium. As the racing schedule ran behind, so did the grid walk and so we took advantage of the wait and sneaked onto the podium for a cheeky photo.

Once the racing had finished; about 30 minutes later than scheduled, the gates were opened and we were finally out on the grid. What then went on to disappoint me was the fact that around just 10 minutes after being let onto the grid, we were ordered back off. I didn’t get chance to get many photo’s or even stand and chat to team members of Sussex Road and Race like I wanted to.

The racing calendar for the day was jam packed with both Classic and Modern Minis and unlike at Brands, it consisted of the Scottish MINI Challenge too which provided that extra Modern MINI racing. Throughout the day there were numberous bumps and scraps which caused some dramatic racing; wonderful for spectators but not the competitors.

A photo that marks my day is one of myself taking photo’s through a gap in the staircase of a bridge over the track. I’m pretty sure that I was the only person (or should that be, idiot) who took photos from that location.

On one of my trips back to Stripes towards the end of the day, I found a few members from Mersey with 3 World Championship JCW’s on the stand. This of course made for a great photo opportunity!

To make even more of an impact, I moved Stripes to another place on the stand in order for the third JCW to park alongside the others. These MINIs are extremely rare and to find three of them at a show and be able to park them together is quite something.

Rounding off the day; just like any Mini Festival should, was the parade lap. Just like the first Brands Hatch Mini Festival, there was a fight going on between me and my Mum; Sheila on who would drive around the circuit. Oulton Park is a much larger track with some corners that I knew I’d be able to start feeling even more of a benefit of my new front and rear strut braces. I knew if Mum drove then they wouldn’t get tested. Thankfully, she gave in and let me take Stripes round.

I’m sure I’ve said it before, as much as I love parade laps especially when you can give it some beans, I couldn’t ever take Stripes on a track day. I’d now happily go out in another MINI on a track as I’ve become more confident and perhaps will pursue this in the future.

To summarise, I will definitely attending this show again next year and hope these Mini Festivals keep up the hard work and even develop further to become even more of a success.

Check out Sammieee’s gallery of photos here.
Check out Keith’s gallery of photos here.

Mini Madness is a product of SammieeePhotography and Joe Steel Art and Photography. We bring Mini imaging from a range of Mini and classic car events.

Event: Poole Quay 2014

The annual Quay for my Car event had scheduled one Mini night which was in place for Friday the 11th of July. Once again, Minis of all ages were invited to display along the Quay from 6pm. Glorious sunshine that day meant that the evening would be bright and warm well into the closing time of 9pm.

My new job as a MINI Genius meant that I could have missed out on this event as I don’t finish until 6pm and Poole is a fair 2 hours drive away. However, after having a chat with the manager he agreed to let me take down a sign written F56 S in Thunder Grey which I knew would capture some attention. I’m a strong believer in MINI dealerships becoming involved in ‘the scene’ and really would love for Snows to be one to do so.

By taking the F56 it also meant that I could spend more time with it to become more confident and comfortable with the new features. For example, before this trip, I hadn’t really played around with the Adaptive Cruise Control and because a lot of the drive would be on the motorway, I could really test that out. When you first leave it to the car to brake because someone’s pulled out across in front of you; it can be nerve racking as you start to feel the car slowing and you’ve not touched the brake or decelerated, it does provide an odd sensation. I soon became used to it and could really see the benefits of it especially if you do a lot of motorway driving.

One feature that you just HAVE to play around with is the MINI Driving Modes; Sport, Mid and Green which is located by the gearstick. The difference between Mid and Sport when you are out on the Motorway is insane! As you cruise along in Mid and then flick it Sport there is a lift and you can feel it’s a totally different setting for the car. It’s extremely fun and it does give you that MINI feeling instantly. Of course, that will use slightly more fuel but for using every now and again for a bit of fun I can see the attraction.

The closer I became to Poole the traffic increased and so I popped it back into Green mode. The fact that when this mode is selected, it shows you; also in green, just how much fuel you are saving makes you feel a lot better about having it in Green mode.

The F56 I had also had the heads up display and Sat Nav. Together it makes for such an easy journey when you are traveling somewhere you’ve not been that many times to know where you are going. The large screen; in the centre where the speedometer was previously, means you can clearly see your surroundings and then to have the head up display showing you the next instruction on the right hand side means you can’t go wrong. At first I admit I wasn’t sure about a head up display but combine it with the Sat Nav and it seems to make perfect sense. The head up display not only shows Sat Nav directions on the right hand side but also track listings if you have your media connected up.

After having fun and getting more familiar with the latest model I arrived at a meeting point where I would pick up Keith Burton with his Pure Silver R50 and Rob Hoare with his Gun Metal Grey R53. It made perfect sense to ‘sandwich’ the F56 between the two first generations on the short drive down to the Quay.

Upon arrival, we were guided through a gateway which admittedly, I did find narrow to swing through. Sadly, as we parked up we were seperated from Rob who had to park up further down the Quay.

Over the next three hours, I spoke to many people about the F56 and Minis in general. I was surprised with the keen interest and positive comments from everyone that attended. On one of the rare occasions I could leave the F56, I set about my photographing duties and spotted a stunning JCW Coupe and even started chatting to the owner. He saw my MINI gear, badge and it was probably the fact I was taking a ton of photos of this JCW that he thought I was there on behalf of Woods! Don’t panic, I soon informed him of who I worked for – Snows, gave him a card and spoke about Mini Madnesss.

Two Classic’s that caught my eye (along with everyone else’s) were WURIX and WIRUX which I remember seeing at various other shows as well. Parked up together, these two really make an impact and I can only give full credit to their owners. Stunning little Minis.

A photo which I am extremely pleased with is this of the Woody that was parked in the perfect spot.

Shortly after 9pm, Keith and I headed home and despite having Sat Nav, I fancied being lazy and just following him out until the M27 when I would know the way. At one particular point on a dual carriageway we decided to have a bit of fun when I over took him, waving and laughing. Of course, this upset him as he wanted to be leading and didn’t fancy me overtaking so he attempted to overtake me back. I know he has been tuned up a bit but I couldn’t help but giggle when he tried to take on my Cooper S. I will point out now that we obviously were keeping to the speed limit! I could feel eyes on me then!

I pulled into the services on the M27 to grab some food before taking the F56 back to the showroom and picking up my R50; Stripes. As I returned back to the Cooper S in the car park and unlocked it in the dark, I was delighted with a feature that greeted me. When you unlock an F56 in the dark, it will light up which almost feels like it’s greeting you. (Yep, I can see the men in white coats now) The LED headlights illuminate along with parking lights and the small LED’s in the handle really pop out. It looked AMAZING. It put such a grin on my face. It’s the small things and attention to detail sometimes that just make such an impact.

Overall, I believe that last years turn out was stronger than this years but I’m unsure as to why. I really enjoyed taking the F56 as it has given me more ‘bonding time’ with it. MINIacs will know what I mean by that! Of course, when the time comes around I will be heading to this event and hope that the turn out picks up again.

Check out Sammieee’s gallery of photos here.
Check out Keith’s gallery of photos here.

Mini Madness is a product of SammieeePhotography and Joe Steel Art and Photography. We bring Mini imaging from a range of Mini and classic car events.

MINI Snows Portsmouth offer the highest level of service on new cars, approved used and servicing as well as all of the latest offers. Give them a call on 023 9200 8034 or pop into the showroom to take a look for yourself and take a MINI for a test drive.

The 2015 MINI Countryman

From MotoringFile: The MINI Countryman has been a massive success for MINI since its release in 2011. For it’s forth year of production MINI is giving it the typical visual and mechanical refresh. However unlike MINI’s past refreshes, the Countryman has received what has to be the subtlest nip and tuck imaginable.

Mechanically there are no big changes to speak of. Instead it’s mostly cosmetic with three new colors, wheels, a slight update to the grille and a dark trim option. Additionally MINI is taking it’s R56 accessory LED headlights and making them a factory option (standard on the MCS and JCW) on the R60 complete with halo rings. The foglight portion is powered by by three LED units arranged horizontally at the centre of the cluster. The daytime driving light takes the form of a luminous ring fed by 15 LED units. When the parking lights are switched on, only five LED units are active in the upper third of the ring.

MINI has upped the power by 7 hp thanks to revised software but North America and other hot climate markets won’t be getting the revision.

Finally to answer to criticisms reviewers have had, MINI has added more sound deadening material to reduce highway noise.

MotoringFile has the full press release and dozens of photos here.