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Otter Racing

So far...

We purchased the car from Essex as a complete car with engine damage, which wasn't a problem as we knew we were going to rebuild the engine anyway. We knew we wanted to race a Mini and this one fitted the bill perfectly - a R56 Cooper S with a John Cooper Works body kit. So the next day with trailer in tow, off we set, Essex bound.

The car was then completely stripped down to a bare chassis, every nut and bolt labelled and bagged so we knew what went where. The next part was the most challenging yet as we had to painstakingly weld the 6 point international roll cage in, which due to the tight space and different angles made it very hard work.

A lot of the car has had to be custom made as it was never intentionally designed to be a race car. The steering column was all fabricated as too were the pedals, seat fixings, petrol tank, brakes, dashboard, gearing and electronics.
We’re still using the same 1.6L Turbo Charged engine which originally produced 175bhp, however our engine has has a complete ‘nut and bolt’ rebuild with new pistons, con-rods, valves, springs, competition clutch, custom manifolds...the list goes on and on. The turbo has been re-designed and now incorporates 'hybrid' properties - combine this with the stand alone Life Racing ECU system, re-map and the car now has 312BHP with 293 Nm of torque!

The suspension was custom made in Germany and specifically designed for this car and the Castle Combe Race Circuit which allows us to change the ride height as well as the caster and camber. The wheels were also designed to allow us to run a certain offset that we require. We’ve opted for 335mm front brake discs with 6 pot High Spec racing callipers which do the business when the car needs to slow down.

As you can see from the photo above the car looks great but most importantly only weighs 822KG. The weight reduction took a massive amount of effort and meant stripping all the sound deadening off the floor of the car, cutting out the second skins from the bonnet and tailgate, swapping glass for perspex, cutting holes in the door edge for unnecessary weight and taking anything out of the cockpit we didn't need - the effort was more than worth it as we now have one-of, if not the, lightest R56 Mini in the UK.

As well as weight reduction this car really comes into it's own with the help of Life Racing electronics and ECU which allow us to have traction control settings for the dry, damp and wet conditions. The Life Racing kit also allows different calibrations for how much power is needed, for example we can turn the engine up for qualifying and then turn it back down again for the race, not to dissimilar to a modern F1 car. The aim of this is to improve the engines reliability which in racing is key. Finally as the Castle Combe Championship is run from a standing start, the Life Racing unit allows us to utilise a full launch control system which has been great fun to use and the Mini really gets off the line quickly as you can imagine.

If you would like any further information on the build of the Mini we have just had an 8 page write up in the 'Performance Mini' magazine which is available to download online from

The car was tested this year at Castle Combe and showed some very completive lap times, so the 2019 season should be great fun to compete in.

The car will be competing in the actioned packed Castle Coombe Saloon Car Championship which starts in April 2019 and we are all ready to go.
For more information on the events at Castle Coombe please visit their website at - Look forward to seeing you there.
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