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M.I.R RUN


Having returned from Germany I head straight from the train station and went to go pick up my JCW from the detailers. I jumped into my sister R53 Cooper S to go pick her up from Midlands Car Care (MCC) as she was having full paint correction, detail and topped off with a C Quartz finest coating.

For once in the UK it was a beautiful summers day so couldn’t wait to see my JCW after 3 long days of not driving her. The shutters rolled up from Midlands Care and there she was gleaming and flake in the metallic paint was really popping. It was like when I pulled the cover off my JCW in the dealership, I had that stupid smirk like it was love at first sight all over again.

I looked around at every panel with Russ spoke to me about the work that went into the paint correction and how shocked he was with all cheap local hand wash had blemished the paint. He said ‘ I have never seen 50/50 comparison shot of paint correction so glaring obvious’ and I replied ‘ I will never allow my paint to be like that every again and I will be washing it myself every week’.

50/50 Detail Shot

I fired her up and exhaust burble echoed in the unit causing everyone to look up, I thanked Russ and his team for all the work they had put into my JCW. Russ joined me in my JCW to take some piccies for his library of work and for his Facebook page.

MINI Dark Knight

I will let the pictures speak for themselves

I dropped Russ back off and headed the long way home enjoying my JCW and the weather. I couldn’t help myself on the way home not to take some pictures for myself

MINI Detailed

MINI Shine

I mentioned the JCW had a special coating on the top of the paint called C Quartz and I am sure you’re wondering what is and what it does?

CQuartz Finest is an evolution in paint coatings. With Finest, stronger more condensed nano particles with better cross linking were designed utilizing a new proprietary nano material to create a “3D” structure which creates a very tough nano structure.  One group(O+Si+O) links to another by a special cross linking agent which produces the cellulose dense joint nano 3D structure coating, giving an extremely durable layer of protection. CQuartz Finest achieves an amazing increase Mohs hardness up to 2H. Unleash the amazing protection and Anti scratch effect and retain a super high gloss clear coat.

What CQuartz Finest does to your paint:

  1. Increases the toughness and glossness of your paint
  2. Gives your paintwork insane beading qualities
  3. More anti scratch protection on paint surface
  4. Offers a deep rich gloss with self-cleaning properties, making future washing of your vehicle, faster and easier
  5. This protection comes with a  2 year warranty

Before I headed to Germany I got a sneaky but distinctive upgrade to the front of my JCW. MINI officially launched the day time running lights aka DRLs for the R56. I had to have them so I was straight on the phone to MINI Shrewsbury who supply and fitted nearly all my MINI JCW accessories. No dealership around where I live can beat them on service or price, even thought it 40 miles plus trip to get to them I have always left feeling like I am important and value customer.

MINI DRLs

The DRLs replace where the existing fog lights where and perfectly match the Xenon lights but still retain the fog light function. Yes it was an expensive option to have at £370 fitted but my JCW is two years old and want refresher like I did with full detail of the paint work. I like keeping my MINI looking lush using genuine MINI parts as I know if anything goes wrong with them its covered under warranty, plus at the time in the UK only 400 units were shipped. My JCW was one of the first to have them fitted as a lot of dealership didn’t have a clue what I was taking about until I gave them the part number (63122338554).

Lets get back on track about The M.I.R Run

MIR Run

This is the 1st MINI run I planned and it would be a thank you to my club Surrey New Mini

I wanted to take them to roads I love in the UK and for them to enjoy their MINIs to the fullest. Plus I wanted everyone to come down to Birmingham again so we could get everyone together to do Go karting.

With everything planned out and meet Garry S before the run so I could see his new purchase…

The Green Monster had gone but what would it be replaced with I wonder

JCW Vs GP2

The lunatic went and brought a GP2 after months of annoying me with ingenious texts, Chinese whispers and rumours.

I gather he brought one a few weeks back as he said ‘I have had enough of tuning and your right Ali for leaving yours alone and making subtle tweaks here and there’ Then all the cryptic messages on the forums and how quick his new car was built. There could be no other answer than a GP as one of his texts said ‘It got built fast because it doesn’t have many extras’

GP Garry

I think I was more happy for him then he was after woes with the WC50. It was nice seeing a friend being happy and enjoying what I love so much about my MINI – The way it makes you feel every time you unlock it, driving it and that moment when you turn back to admire it after locking it.

The Fast Five got given faster now and GP Garry would be turning up with a fully run in GP2. I was looking forward to seeing him go at it down some twisty roads. I think I could hear the pack from Surrey as the traffic reports on the radio were going bonkers as I am sure they caused a stir on the motorways on the way down.

MINI Crew

They all arrived together at the hotel near my house and I greeted them with my brother little Adam who wanted to see everyone again. We all caught up in the hotel lobby over some dinner and filled them in with all the shenanigans of Germany.

The next morning my road was awaken by the sounds of the SNM crew as they filled up my drive way for a quick morning washing our beasts. The pressure washer and snow foam was out to get 4 MINIs quickly washed and dried so we could head out to do some go karting.

MINI Driveway

I lead the pack to the Cannon Raceway in Wolverhampton for the karting but we arrived late due spending a little too washing the beasts so we headed straight into the briefing room and given our video and personal safety briefing. We dawned our racing overalls and proceed to track to get our helmets and look at the track.

The track looked perfect for some tight races between us all with sweeping bends, chicanes, hairpin turns, long fast straights, a hump-back flyover, a switch back tunnel, “S” bends awaiting us.

Go Karting track

We picked our kart of choice but it didn’t really make a difference as these were race tuned 270cc engine karts with slick racing tyres on aluminium wheels and hydraulic disc brakes. I opted to jump into the middle of the field so I eye up my competition and see what lines they would take then go in for the overtake.

Engine and brakes checked we all rolled out one by one from the watchful eye of the marshal. Phil went first followed by Garry then me and Christine for sight seeing laps to get a feel of the track to get the line right and learn the track. Phil and Garry where are it already will me just hooning around for the first laps to feel where the level of grip and what speeds I could take the corners at without too much slip. Christine was at the back holding everyone up as we lapped her, I guess she was really sight-seeing the track.

With our practice laps over we pulled back into the pits for the first of our 2 x 25 lap sessions so cue the F1 Music (The Chain by Fleetwood Mac).

Murray’s Walker voice came into my head as soon as that flagged was waved – GO GO GO for the Monaco Grand Prix!!!

Go Karting

I slammed the gas pedal getting a little swirm as I pulled away with Phil ahead and Garry in hot pursuit. I went Into the 1st the first bend hot and overbraked to get some heat into the front tyres as full throttled up the hump-back flyover not lifting off as it dives down into a hairpin bend.

I caught some air as I aimed my kart for the apex and eased off the gas pedal as the back wheels grabbed contact again with the track and left foot braked whilst backing off gas to scrub the speed off for the bend. I turned into early causing me to reduce speed but this was useful for next section of the track which is a tight set of S bends which require me to get braking and throttle perfect in order to carry speed on to the back straight away.

I weaved into the S bends tapping the brakes to keep right side for the corner as I found it hard to find the best line to track through the S bends. I entered the last section of the S bend kicked the tail out with fully throttle to go wide out to run along side inches away from the crash barriers so I could gain more momentum for the hump back bridge. It paid off as caught a good half-foot of air on the way down from the bridge.

I proceed to savagely hunt down GP Garry & Phil who had the early lead but I gaining on them every corner I took. On the 5 or 6th lap GP Garry  had spun out helping me gain some ground on him after his speeding antics in the infamous Monaco tunnel it would it mount to battle for biblical magnitude.

MINI Karting

Now it was game time with GP Garry & Rally Ali going head to head for glory and bragging rights all weekend. I made it clear to Garry that I was right behind him by braking late so he could see and hear me so I could start mounting psychological pressure on him. After tailing him for a lap and pressuring him to make an error he doesn’t seem to buckle from my advances, so driver skill is where I will take him.

As went through the S bends again and on to last the corner I keep my kart centimetres away from as we accelerated away from the corner and we lock eyes to the bridge. Garry was following his own line as he kept away from the barrier whilst I tailgating whilst remain next to the barrier, as we climbed the hill I moved over to right on the crest. Garry backed off the accelerator whilst I keep my foot planted and moved across him to block the corner ahead, we catch air with me half a length ahead. We both lock the brakes as we both make contact with the track I instinctively move left even more to finish overtake and completely blocking him to take the cutting point on the apex leaving him behind.

With Garry dismissed I focused on keeping on the racing line for the next few laps to keep him at bay whilst stalking my next prey called Phil. I learned how to carry more speed through the S bends through precise throttle inputs and leaving the brake pedal alone but there was some debris on the track called ‘Christine’ which doodling along (I am only joking Christine please don’t kill me).

Christine was beneficial to me as she slowed down Phil for me to pick him off next. My hands were getting cramped as I was holding the wheel too firm as I looked for a line to take Phil. My chance came just after the S bends as Phil had tucked in a little too much, allowing me to glide by on the outside with the extra speed I was carrying. I was on pole but there was no time relaxing as I wanted to come close the track lap record and not allow anyone to overtake me.

Sadly my talent might have run out on S bend as just nipped the barrier causing me to crash a little bit and my kart leak fluids on the track which allowed Phil and Garry to gain some significant ground tag team against me. But it didn’t matter as they actually spun out on the little bit of fluid from my kart, which nearly caught me out on few laps later.

I took the chequered flag and took a parade lap to cool down my kart, sadly there weren’t any sexy pit girls waiting for me just blokes and kids looking at me thinking he can’t half drive as the times for each us came up on the boards. I was fastest but a few seconds with Phil and Garry putting in similar times and you can gather who was slowest.

After a short 2 minute rest we were back into our same karts as we were previously raced in. I decided to aim for pure speed and better lap times this around whilst gaining pole position but I wouldn’t be sacrificing lap times just for an overtake.

It was bad decision for me pick the same kart as felt fatigued on the back straight like I had lost power some how and I was acting like Jeremy Clarkson shouting COMMMMEEE OONNNNN!!!! I NEED MORE POWWWEEERRRR!!!!

The battles between us weren’t as epic as we lap time chasing which resulted in a few spinning out. However I did make a dumb move with trying to overtake Phil as I didn’t think he would be braking so I needed up shunting him into the barrier. Sorry Phil but you were in my way! My driving pedigree shone again with me coming first and putting in the fastest time again. Everyone else improved their times with Garry only being about 1 second behind my time.

MINI Crew 2

All pumped with adrenaline we hoped into our little road legal go karts called MINIs and head to Wales to begin the M.I.R Run. The MINI adventure would start off with us meeting a few MINI Mates from Merseyside MINI – Rob & Liz in their GP2 and Si & family in his new factory fresh JCW.

The weather was perfect but the traffic wasn’t on the way to Wales however once we cut across the border we could open the taps on the smooth winding asphalt with the raised speed limit. Sport mode was activated and the hills were alive with the sounds of MINIs poppin and banging on the over run as we arrived into the little village of Betws-y-Coed.

SNM & MMC - MIR RUN

We met up with fellow MINIacs Rob & Liz and Aldo and family for a quick catch up, laughs and photo ops in the carpark. We hadn’t started the Run yet and we were giggling like 5 years olds as we catched up and took some silly pics but I forgot my belt so my chinos were constantly falling down.

MINI Man Crew

Rob wouldn’t lend me the keys to the GP so I took matters into my own hands

GP2 Thief

After some forgiveness we sat down for lunch together to fuel up for the MINI Madness ahead!

The EVO Triangle’s name comes from the writers over at the EVO Magazine. This route is what the writers use to test drive the cars for magazine features. The route has become very popular among driving enthusiasts, and seems to be one of the most talked about routes in the UK. The route starts on the A543 (just off the A5) heading North along tight sweeping bends and great scenery. You will then turn right onto the B4501 which takes you on some nice long sweeping bends with views of the Llyn Brenig Lake. This road then leads back to the A5 (going through the village of Cerrigydrudion) and back to where you started.

Rob’s GP2 led the pack to the EVO Triangle so we could line up to begin the run and look down on the ribbon of tarmac.

MINIs Vs EVO

As I was setting up my Go Pro I realised I made amateur mistake of leaving the memory card at home. With me feeling like an idiot, Si son Olly was messing around the field and stumbled upon a rim which reminds you that this road can catch you out. This is where Olly nickname was created with Si getting annoyed with the constant questions and called ‘Alloy come here!’ which ensued laughed amongst us all.

Alloy

It was like looking at a familiar adversary like Senna was meeting Prost for the ultimate no hold barred rematch to see who was the better driver. My foe would be more kind to me this time as the asphalt had recently been resurfaced and my JCW had its upgraded JCW discs and fresh set of pads however my tyres were down to 3mm all round.

JCW Discs

It was bad enough catching a GP in cold winter months but we had to leave distance between us as the freshly laid road had small stones littered all over it and those Kumhos tyres would be at operating temperatures making it my work harder.

So it begins!!! 1220 BHP of MINIs in convoy head down the ribbon of asphalt called the EVO Triangle. The GPs cleared the path like to two scouts heading forth into battle with the full battalion of JCW heading to finish off the stragglers.

EVO RUN

MIR RUN EVO

The two GPs were off like a flash and the extra gap between us just made it harder to catch up as my grip wandered in the corners as there were a few moments of squirming where power wasn’t being put down.

That extra gap for the GP was enough for them to leave in me literally in their dust as I was at least a full corner behind them all the time. I couldn’t keep up to my annoyance as I was entering a corner they were a full 5 car lengths ahead and powering away from me. I felt bad for my JCW as I pushing her to the point she was skipping and ABS coming into play due to the lack of traction in the breaking zones.

Me only consolation prize was Si who was trying to keep up with me and I had no idea how far behind Christine and Phil where. I had to wait with the GPs in a lay by for them to be anywhere remotely visible to us.

Don’t you worry GPs my JCW will be matching you in the bends soon after some coilovers go on to my JCW next year…

You can’t say I wasn’t trying to keep up with the GPs as when we pulled over our first lap of the EVO triangle my tyres were LITERALLY melting!!!  The GPs left me in the bends and had a corner advantage over me : /

Melting Tyres

JCW decided to roll back as the brakes were hot as I left it on the hand brake and Si was left very impressed with the sound of my JCW and thought the overrun pops were immense. I was shocked for him as he was trying to keep up with in a JCW with only 400 miles on the clock!!! I guess everyone has their own run in procedures ; )

We went back around again to shrub some more rubber off tyres and to be greeted with the smell of baked brake pads.

GPs Vs JCW

I still cant get over how well sorted the GP2 is. Alot of people say it’s too expensive, it’s not special enough, it looks like an R56 JCW with silly stickers and why doesn’t it have more power???

For the doubters the GP2 was in development for 2 years where it was honed for both the track and road, where the already well sorted chassis was given the fundamental upgrade of coilover suspension system. That difference alone makes it a formidable foe to dance with as I found out again pursing the GPs over the run.

MIR RUN EVO

The suspension just absorbs the bumps and gives the tyres the greater contact with the road for those compound specific Kumho tyres. You can physically see it at work as my JCW bouncing around whilst the GP was composed like it flattening the undulations in the road.

Garry loved the road and his GP even more and the SNM crew could see what I banging on about early in the year. The smiles and grins said it all when we pulled over half way on the way back to our cottage in a small car park and caused a little commotion like we normally do when we drive in convoy.

GP Reflections

This time we attracted another MINI owner who circled back round to see us and ask a few questions about what we had been up to and that he engine light on his dash. I got my diagnostic tool out of my boot and told him the error code and fault it had with his MINI which was an error code related to him putting a sports cat on.

We said our goodbyes to the MMC crew and head back to our cottage, we didn’t expect to have some awesome roads along the way but we did!!!

Wales View with SNM Crew

We arrived at our cottage and it was amazing with nice furnishings and ambles amount of space for us to kick back chill out and just catch up. We all freshened up a little and head down to the hotel restaurant to taste some of the local food to find a couple of muskets above what was once the fireplace.

Muskets?

After we eat we all head back and caught up with one another after we hadn’t been together as a group in a while, plus a few things had changed in our lives and we wanted the verdict off Garry how living with the GP2 is compared to WC50. We were all laughing and merry as they cracked open the complementary bottles of wine whilst I sipped on my ribena. We all reminisced that this time last year we had all met for the 1st time and we were in France for MINI UNITED 2012.

MINI Cottage

We woke for day two for the MIR Run resulted me getting up early to try to steal Garry’s GP keys so I could take a cheek spin around the block. Sadly Garry knows me all to well and hid his keys which was really annoying as the lunatic parked outside the front door.

MINI GP2

We had the perfect fry up breakfast in the pub restaurant next door then proceed to pack up our bags and check up on our MINIs before we headed out to do some more awesome roads.

MINI Check up

The next road up road for taming was in the Pass of Llanberis in Snowdonia and the weather was immense for the UK with temperatures hitting 26 degrees for those ray bans moments to continue.

We all parked up alongside the lake across the pass for some piccies as the water looked mesmerising with the sun glistening the ripples alongside the back drop of the mountains and evergreen forests.

Snowdonia

We leisurely cruised through Llanberis pass with clear blue skies with the windows down taking pictures were we could and enjoying the pothole free smooth tarmac.

Snowdonia View

It always been moments like this where I wonder if I didn’t have a MINI would I be doing this? Would I have met the people who I call friends but are family to me? Is this motoring heaven? Why am I smiling so much?

Mountain View

Snowdonia

We just cruised the whole journey taking in the beauty of Snowdonia with the waves and smiles we got from onlookers by.

After all the waving to our subjects we grew hungry and retired to local pub opposite Swallow Falls in Betws-y-Coed which was once again another sweet lunch. The Welsh have got three things nailed on the head; scenery, food and roads which happen to be best things in the world.

After the delightful lunch we crossed the road to Swallow Falls to take in the natural beauty of the falls with the sound cascading water which brought an aura of calm to the bank holiday weekend mini madness.

Falls

IMG_8523 IMG_8528

IMG_8533

Like all good things it had to come an end and we gave other hugs and wished each other a safe journey home as we would diverge on the motorway away from one another. But we would meet again next week for the legendary London to Brighton Run.

I want to close on a few words on this posts as the website turned one & my JCW turned two years old.

Its been two years of continued MINI Adventures with the world’s greatest friends with my most pride possession my JCW. I look at my JCW every morning and think ‘Thank you for all the MINI Adventures, smiles and connecting me with people who I wouldn’t have ever met otherwise’.

You may think I mad that genuine love my JCW, as it’s truly an extension of my personality but I often call her ‘the misses’. Sure she cost me a small fortune with £1,000 being spent on her before I went on the MIR run with brakes, disc, tyres, DRLs and a full detail but she is worth!!

The messages, comments and looks I get every time I drive her on a daily basis is still a new every time people tell me. The FACT people some say I am driving their Perfect MINI or their Dream Car humbles me that I am fortunate to own my JCW. This is the reason why I write this blog so you can see WHY I brought my JCW to DRIVE and to take you on the drive of your LIFE…

JCW ADVENTURES

Next Blog Post: MINI Vines: Piazza Italia VII

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