MINI once again alongside Sibiu Rally Challenge

Bucharest/Sibiu. MINI, a legendary brand in motorsport, was present this weekend at Sibiu Rally Challenge, a festival dedicated to motorsport which offers some of the most spectacular roads in Romania, including the famous Transfăgărăşan. The weekend included a round of the National Rally Championship, an Open competition and a Regularity Rally for vintage cars. There was a total of 80 crews enrolled in all three competitions.

At the end of the weekend, victory was once again gained by the crew Simone Tempestini (ITA) – Dorin Pulpea (RO), who won the sixth round of the National Rally Championship, by winning seven out of a total of eight special stages scheduled.
MINI, through the official dealer Automobile Bavaria, was the official car of the event. A fleet of 9 MINI Countryman All4 models were available for the organisers as assistance vehicles. The first all-wheel-drive model in the history of the brand represents the fundaments for the brands’ success in the last four editions of the Dakar Rally.

Meanwhile, the new MINI John Cooper Works participated in the Regularity Rally with a demo crew of journalists, thus experiencing its official „baptism” on Transfăgărăşan.
MINI John Cooper Works is the most powerful and fastest production model of the brand. Completely new, the 2.0 litre, four-cylinder engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology offers a maximum power output of 170 kW / 231 hp, which makes it the most powerful propeller that was ever available in a MINI series-production vehicle.

Developed using the experience gained from motorsport, where MINI Challenge competitions have played an important role, it has technological details for the suspension, bodywork and cockpit which are perfectly harmonised with a high level of performance. The general package for extreme performance includes sports suspensions with Brembo sport braking system, exclusive John Cooper Works alloy wheels, John Cooper Works aerodynamic kit, very large air intakes and a specific interior with a sports car ambience. The new MINI John Cooper Works sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.3 seconds. With the steptronic six-speed transmission, available as an alternative to the manual six-speed transmission, a 6.1 seconds sprint is achieved. Moreover, in combination with the automatic transmission, fuel consumption of the new MINI John Cooper Works, according to the EU test cycle, is reduced to 5.7 l / 100 km (CO2 emissions: 133 g / km).

MINI in motorsport
In the 60s, the British brand and John Cooper made history – Mini Cooper and afterwards Mini Cooper S dominated the rally scene. Mini stands out from the beginning with style: a woman won the first title in an international rally: Pat Moss in 1962 at the Tulip Rally. Other famous victories include the 1965 RAC Rally, the Rally of the 1000 Lakes in 1965, 1966 and 1967, Acropolis Rally in 1967, Alpine Cup in 1963 and 1967 and the Austrian Alpine in 1966. The most famous performances remain the three titles of Monte Carlo, obtained in 1964, 1965 and 1967 by Paddy Hopkirk, Timo Mäkinen and finally, Rauno Aaltonen.

In the 60s, the car has also demonstrated its potential outside rallies. In April 1968, Niki Lauda attended his first hillclimb driving a Mini, which brought him the second place. After just two weeks, he would gain his first victory, announcing a promising career for the future world champion. Just like Niki Lauda, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Jochen Rindt and James Hunt are just a few of the Formula 1 world champions who have experienced their first competitive experience at the wheel of the classic Mini.

Now, the presence of MINI in motorsport is centred on rally raids. MINI won the last four editions of the legendary Dakar Rally, last time in January 2015 after over 9,000 kilometers driven in the toughest endurance rally in the world. Behind this performance there is a new special chapter in the history of the brand: the first model with all-wheel drive and four doors – MINI Countryman.

Show and legendary cars in the regularity competition at Sibiu Classic Challenge

  • After starting in the Acropolis Rally, Stefan Vasile has competed in the competition at Sibiu and won the classic car race.
  • Greek Gerasimos Katochianos, who raced a Ford Escort RS2000 MK1, won the sport regularity class.
  • 20 cars participated in both categories

A veritable motorsport festival, Sibiu Rally Challenge also included in the schedule a regularity competition, Sibiu Classic Challenge, which had two categories: classic regularity and sport regularity which has achieved a real success in both terms of number of participants and competitiveness level since its very first edition.

Former athletes, some of them with high performances in their career and others just passionate about motorsport, more or less familiar with this kind of competitions. This was the set of competitors at Sibiu Classic Challenge, the regularity competition held as part of Sibiu Rally Challenge. The common points were the competitive spirit and the determination with which they struggled to cross the finish line in the best position, attributes that have paved the way for some intense disputes over the victory.

The classic regularity race was won by a couple of reference names in the Romanian motorsport, Stefan Vasile and Dacian Banca, who competed with Dacia 1310 Sedan model. The fight for the second place showcased a MG TD and a VW T2 Westfalia driven by two foreign competitors, Belgian Louis Bertrand and Englishman Neil MacDonald. Victory went to the former, but with a difference of only 25.1 points, extremely tight one for such competitions.

The sport regularity competition had at the start models produced between 1971 and 1983, and the victory went to Gerasimos Katochianos on a Ford Escort RS2000 MK1, which climbed on the podium together with Gabriel Red (VW Golf GTI) and Gheorghe Nedelcu (Fiat 124 Sport Coupe) and their co-drivers.

“The first collaboration between the Sports’ Commission of Retromobil Club Romania and the team from Sibiu Rally Challenge was a real success, both as organization and in terms of competition. George Ioannides, FIVA Vice President at the event, had only high praise and was impressed by the beauty of the route and the warmth with which he has been welcomed by local officials. As for the competition, Sibiu Classic Challenge managed to attract famous names from the world of historical motorsport at the two competition categories, which brought a nice feeling throughout the rally route. The route in general and Transfăgărăşan in particular have been a unique challenge for the old ladies who managed to climb to 2000 meters without any help from modern technologies. We are confident that next year the historical cars will also fill the Small Square in Sibiu.” Georgios Ladopoulos said, President of Sports Commission, Retromobil Club Romania.

Gerasimos Katochianos and Stefan Vasile, winners of the two categories, were awarded at the end Tissot watches by KALA Koncept. In addition there were awarded the following special prizes: ladies Cup for the crew Mirela Bucovicean / Ioana Vulpescu who drove a Porsche 911E (1969), the oldest car for the crew Louis Bertrand / Cristina Panek with a MG TD (1952) and the car with the smallest engine for the crew Adrian Mihai Cernat / Roxana Cernat with a Fiat 850 (1967).

Sibiu Rally Challenge, a motorsport festival, is scheduled between 20 – 23 of August and includes Sibiu Rally, the sixth round of Dunlop National Rally Championship held under the aegis of the Romanian Motorsport Federation (FRAS). Sibiu Rally Challenge is an event co-financed by the Sibiu City Council and Sibiu City Hall and supported by Orange Romania.

Second place for Shark Racing in the beginners class in Sibiu Rally Challenge

Transfagarasan, the most spectacular road in Romania, was the main stage for the National Rally Championship’s competitors during this last weekend. Sibiu Rally Challenge, the sixth round of the National Championship, represented for the Shark Racing crew, consisting of Gabriel Laurentiu ENE and Ciprian SOLOMON, another excellent evolution completed with the second place on the beginners podium.

After the first stage behind the wheel of Peugeot 208 R2, when technical problems have prevented a complete evolution of crew #441, Sibiu Rally Challenge was the long awaited round for Gabriel Laurentiu ENE. “As we said before, we were looking forward for the beautiful round in Sibiu. I’m happy for the result and especially for the fact that everything worked perfectly, without any technical problems, thus managing to concentrate only on driving. The tests we did in the week prior to the rally mattered a lot, making it possible to get adjusted with the new car. I fulfilled my dream of competing on the famous Transfagarasan, but it was extremely demanding due to difficult weather conditions characterized by rain and dense fog. On this occasion I want to thank all our fans who were present on Transfagarasan in the early morning hours at temperatures of 4-5 degrees Celsius and endured rain and wind to support us.” said Gabriel ENE.

Ciprian SOLOMON said after Sibiu Rally Challenge: “It was a difficult round due to weather conditions on Transfagarasan. With all my experience in rallies I can say that the dense fog which appeared on SS7 was extremely dangerous in terms of safety for the competitors. It’s good that everything ended well and we are satisfied with the result. We really liked the stages Paltinis and Baraj and we are already looking forward for the upcoming edition of the Sibiu round. We think that the spectators deserve a special prize from us, the competitors, because they have endured extreme cold and harsh weather conditions to encourage us on stages on Transfagarasan. I bow in front of them and I thank them for the support they show each stage. See you in Iasi. „

Iasi Rally, the seventh round of the National Rally Championship, will take place 11-12 September.

Shark Racing receives support from sgmarket.ro during the entire 2015 racing season.

Model dedicated to the Romanian pilots who competed with BMW, at Sibiu Rally Challenge

Bucharest/Sibiu. Sibiu Rally Challenge, held between 20-23 August, offered a full menu to motorsport enthusiasts: special stages held on legendary Transfăgărăşan and the sixth stage of the National Rally Championship. BMW entered a special model in this event, dedicated to the Romanian pilots who have performed with the brand throughout a racing history of nearly 80 years. With a crew made of Radu Gurămultă (journalist AutoExpert, 4×4 Adventure) and Alexander Şeremet (Communications Manager BMW Romania) BMW 2 Series model participated in the regularity rally, without gaining points for the official standings.

The design was dominated by the portraits of Petre Cristea and Marin Dumitrescu, two of the most important Romanian racing drivers in history. Their stylized images, reproductions of photographs taken after some of their most important victories with BMW (Eifelrennen 1939, respectively Sinaia 1950), were placed on the side of the car, on the rear wings. Also, the doors were engraved with the names of pilots who have performed with BMW over time in various competitions – rally, hillclimb, speed circuit or historic cars competitions. The design was completed with the BMW Motorsport stripes, the famous red-purple-blue tricolor. They covered the entire length of the car – from the front bumper on to the hood, roof, over the trunk and rear bumper.
The project motto was to „Let’s make history!” It is intended as a token of appreciation for all of the Romanian race drivers who have performed with BMW and who marked the brand image. At the same time it is an approach to better know the brand’s history motorsport.

The history of Romanian race drivers’ performance who competed with BMW started in the second half of the ’30s. It was a time when BMW 328 made a career on circuits all around the world, including in street racing in Brasov, Bucharest or at Feleac International Hillclimb Competition. Petre Cristea is certainly one of the most important drivers that competed with BMW 328. His most memorable victory with this model was to be achieved in 1939, in the famous Eifelrennen race at Nürburgring in front of the BMW factory drivers. A decade later, Marin Dumitrescu marked the first important moments in his career with a BMW 328, modified in the early 50s at the Vulcan Factory. It was the model with which he has dominated the circuit races of the period. The hillclimb victory in Sinaia, 1950, would remain in the memory of Marin Dumitrescu as one of the greatest successes of his long career.

The communist period has brought a long break in motorsport and made it very difficult to participate in competitions with models manufactured outside the iron curtain. But there are some exceptions, including Marin Dumitrescu competing briefly with a BMW 2002. Perhaps the most remarkable appearance is that of Laurentiu Borbely who becomes national rally champion with a BMW 2002. Today, exactly 40 years apart, Lorinz Borbely, his son, drives the same car, refurbished, in the historic and hillclimb races.

The present has brought participants in rally racing, hillclimb or speed circuit, with champions in various categories. Historical models are a constant presence also in motorsport events in Romania. In addition, more and more pilots are participating in the Formula BMW program with notable performances.

Statements about the project

Radu Gurămultă, race driver of the crew, journalist: “Sibiu Rally Challenge was a noble challenge for us. The starting point for this project was a special one, which is to honor Romanian pilots who competed with BMW; and not just because we accepted the challenge of racing on Transfăgărăşan aboard a BMW, but because I do not think there are many brands that can boast of having participated in the automotive competitions in Romania and other countries, consistently, from the 30s up nowadays.

Regarding the experience I had with Alex, I can say it was downright crazy – from ecstasy to agony, sometimes. Although we weren’t gaining any points in the category in which we participated, we took it quite seriously (maybe too seriously at times) and we tried to be as competitive as we could. For me, as an occasional participant at rallies in the co-driver position, the experience of sitting behind the wheel and listen Alex’s indications will be very important. I like to think that I’ve learned a lot of small things which I will apply from now on and I hope that this issue will come as a support for my teammate.

About Sibiu Rally Challenge we have only good things to say, it was a rally made out of sensational ingredients, except the demanding weather on Saturday. I would like to thank all those who made our madness possible! I would also like to send a good thought to all the Romanian pilots who have made history with BMW and gave us good reason to dream and live our amazing story on Transfăgărăşan. ”

Alexander Seremet, co-driver of the crew, communications manager: “I must admit that the original idea belonged to Radu, both of us being under the strong influence of the documentary < About BMW history in car racing.< From our discussion about the film emerged the motto of our project - << Let's make history! >>”.

I think we were both a bit overwhelmed by all the names we had on the car and we took our participation very seriously, although we was a demonstrative team. I fought for every second and I felt a little of what it means to participate in a motorsport competition.
I took it very seriously and with great emotion because we were carrying a very valuable << load >>, which we respect a lot. Fortunately Sibiu Rally Challenge gave us the perfect ingredients for such a project. I’ll never forget the Great Square, full of people who greeted us, it was a very special moment for me. And then I had the opportunity to drive, in the contest, on a legendary road – Transfăgărăşan. It was a memorable moment for our personal history.

I want to thank everyone who supported us and especially to all who stopped to read the names on our car. And most importantly, I want to thank all the Romanian pilots who competed with BMW over time, whether or not engraved on our car – they made our brand history! ”

Pilots’ names written on the BMW Series 2 “Let’s make history!”

The interwar period
Petre Cristea, Marin Dumitrescu, Alexander Papan, Dan Tătuşescu, Alexe de Vassal, Constantin Voluntaru, Vintilă Frumuşanu Ion Bolony Valentin Tantareanu Alexander Uta, Jean Calcianu, Ion Luca Niculescu, H. Rosenauer, Marin Butculescu.

Rally, hillclimb, historical cars competitions
Lawrence Borbely Borbely Lorinz, Eugen Ionescu Cristea Horatiu Ionescu Cristea, Horst Graef, Gunther Graef, Dorin Toma, Eduard TONTSCH Michael Beldie, Costi Stratnic Adrian Bort.

Speed circuit, Formula BMW
Ovidiu Mazilu Mihai Marinescu Doru Sechelariu, Mihnea Stefan

Bogdan Talașman increases his lead at the top of Dacia Cup 2015

  • Dacia Cup podium at the end of round VI of 2015, Sibiu Rally Challeng
  • The lead at the top of Dacia cup increases to over 30 points
  • Strategic approach for the end of the season

Arriving in Sibiu as leaders of Dacia Cup 2015, Bogdan Talasman and Andrei Mitrasca agreed over a weighed pace for the following race. The plan included a place on the podium and a race without incidents on the most beautiful road in the world.

Thus, after the first day, crew number 85 were exactly on the desired position and decided to defend their place in the next six stages on Saturday. Although the weather sorely tested the crews, conditions were similar for all competitors and did not favour anyone. Fog made the second descent on Transfagarasan one of the toughest stages in the whole championship. Bogdan kept his concentration, including on the last stage which he also won, managing to maintain his position on the podium and get even closer to the Dacia Cup title.

“We made great efforts to come. I gave up a lot for Sibiu because I fixed what I ruined in Cluj. I wanted more than just to be present, so I fought on the special stages, enough as to not risk going off the track. Transfagarasan is indeed a spectacular road. The atmosphere in the center of Sibiu is also unique and I always leave with nice memories. There still are two more rounds and nothing is settled until we cross the finish line at Harghita, the last rally of this year. „ said Bogdan Talasman at the end of the race.

“Last year I competed for the first time as a rally driver, right here in Sibiu, and it was extraordinary. I didn’t think that last year’s nervous feelings will return but I had an empty stomach throughout the whole weekend. I ran at the Moonlight Run, I climbed again on the podium, I had a correct strategy which worked, so I cannot be anything but pleased.” added Andrei Mitrasca.

After six rallies held in 2015, Bogdan Talasman gathered 108 points at the lead of Dacia Cup, which brings him 30.4 points ahead of Adrian Dragan, who becomes, after Sibiu, the main pursuer in the standings. Next round is Iasi, where crew number 85 will try to keep their advantage and to leave as little as possible in fate’s hands for the last round of this year. In 2015, Bogdan Talasman is supported by Miras, the main partner of the pilot for several seasons. Bogdan and Andrei would like to congratulate the organisers of the Sibiu round for the extraordinary sporting event and they hope it will remain in the calendar for the next years.

Audi TT-RS by MTM opened the road on Transfăgărăşan at Sibiu Rally Challenge 2015

Held between 20-23 August 2015, Sibiu Rally Challenge was a festival of motorsport and included the sixth round of the National Rally Championship, among two other competitions reserved for classic cars and more. The highlights of the weekend certainly were the four rally stages on Transfagarasan, the most famous road in Romania, with Team Devil Motors accepting the challenge to participate in the modern version of the race in Sibiu on board of the Audi TT-RS powered by MTM.

National champions at group N in 2003, Emanuel Ilina and Flavius ​​Câmpeanu, kicked off Sibiu Rally Challenge as forlighters, opening the race for the other crews from the national competition over the eight special stages which summed up to 83 kilometres.

The chosen car was the Audi TT-RS from Devil Motors’s garage, the Romanian representative of German tuner MTM. The famous roadster, produced in 2010 by Quattro GmbH in Neckarsulm division, has a 2.5 liters 5-cylinder engine, which originally had a power of 340 HP and 450 Nm torque, available between 1600-5300 rpm. Following modifications, the engine can now deliver 424 HP at 6,600 rpm, while the torque increased to 560 Nm, with the manual six-speed transmission and permanent full traction. The maximum speed of the car is now 292 km/h and it sprints from 0-100 km/h in only 4.1 seconds.

“I am very glad we decided to participate in Sibiu Rally Challenge. Although I am a fan of gravel rallies, I felt great on the asphalt special stages at Sibiu. Transfăgărăşan is certainly the most spectacular road in Romania and Audi TT-RS by MTM did an excellent job on this road, given the fact that the start was at an altitude of 1,350 meters and the finish was at over 2,000 meters. We were also helped by the performance of Dunlop tires, made available by the Romanian representative of the brand, thus experiencing the race without being nervous! „ said Emanuel Ilina, manager of Devil Motors, the official representative of MTM in Romania.

With an atypical weather for August, Transfăgărăşan greeted the Devil Motors crew with extremely low temperatures on Saturday, rain, fog and very low visibility. Besides the improvement of the engine, the MTM package also included an upgrade to an all-wheel-drive Haldex traction system with an ECU which reached its fourth generation, so the Audi TT-RS by MTM responded very well even in the unfavourable conditions found on Transfăgărăşan. “We met all our objectives at Sibiu Rally Challenge, we completed all the kilometres of the special stages without technical problems and we had fun like we haven’t had in ages!” said  the co-driver, Flavius ​​Câmpeanu.

Devil Motors is the official representative of the German tuner MTM in Romania and performs a wide range of upgrades (especially technical) on all production models of Volkswagen group brands. The most important upgrades consist of software modifications to the engine, brake system, exhaust, etc.

After participating in Sibiu Rally Challenge 2015, Emanuel Ilina, manager of Devil Motors, decided to start an ambitious project of building a rally car based on RS model from Audi’s range. We hope that the audience will enjoy the evolution of Devil Motors crew on the special stages, starting as soon as next season.