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Source: BMW Group Munich. He is known around the world as the “rally professor”, but too much theory eventually spoils the mood of even the happiest professional. Rauno Aaltonen had to spend the past eight months at home in his Finnish homeland due to the lockdown regulations in force. No excursions on the rally slope, no trial of strength in historical races, no practical courses with racing enthusiastic students. Aaltonen is now 82 years old, but the tingling sensation in his accelerator has never subsided, and his impressive level of fitness still allows him to grapple with the steering wheel. Never before, he says, has he had to do without driving for as long as in the pandemic-shaped year 2020. And, no, he is really not made for retirement. How good that there are loyal friends who know very well what could help against boredom. Even before the first little doors in the Advent calendar were opened, MINI came up with the idea of ​​a special kind of pre-Christmas presents. And because it was clear what the experienced rally driver and long-time companion of the British brand was missing most, it wasn’t just a package laced up, but also a “sledge” set in motion. A closed vehicle transport trailer filled with a classic Mini and pulled by a MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 (combined fuel consumption: 6.5 – 6.2 l / 100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 149 – 142 g / km) entered the long journey to the north: “Rauno has given us so many moving moments in almost 60 years. Now is the perfect moment to give something back, ”says Bernd Körber, Head of the MINI brand. Indeed, the relationship between Aaltonen and the British brand goes back to 1961. At that time, the Finn had just become national rally champion in his home country and was determined to take on the challenge of the “Monte”, which was already shrouded by many myths, for the first time at the beginning of the following year. With the classic Mini, he found the right vehicle for it. The joint premiere ended with a spectacular crash, but in January 1963 Aaltonen finished the Monte Carlo Rally in the Mini Cooper as class winner and third in the overall standings. From year to year the classic Mini and the works team were better and better at meeting the unique demands of the Rally Monte Carlo prepared – not least because of the precise instructions that Rauno Aaltonen gave the team after every run and during every test drive regarding vehicle set-up, additional equipment, road conditions and tire selection. “Everything that was allowed and possible within the regulations was also taken into account,” he reported later. Nevertheless, the great triumph was initially reserved for others. In 1964, Northern Irishman “Paddy” Hopkirk took the first overall victory in the Mini Cooper S, and Aaltonen’s compatriot Timo Mäkinen achieved the second “trick” the following year. In 1966, the trio, now known as “the three musketeers”, even took first to third place, but was disqualified after a controversial decision by the race management, which classified the Mini’s lighting system as illegal. In 1967 the time had finally come: Rauno Aaltonen also achieved the long-deserved overall victory at the Monte Carlo Rally, making the classic Mini a rally legend and putting his stamp on the sport as a whole. Aaltonen is considered to be the inventor of left-hand braking, which enabled him to keep his right foot on the accelerator pedal even when cornering, while the left foot alternated between the clutch and brake pedal. He called it “playing the piano with your feet”. In addition, the Finn introduced detailed “notes” on the route and was the first to send “ice spies” onto the piste to record the condition of the road. His meticulous preparation and the ability to vividly explain his rapid driving maneuvers soon also benefited Aaltonen beyond the rally slopes. As the first chief instructor of the BMW driver training, which was founded in 1976 and is now known as the BMW and MINI Driving Experience, the “rally professor” passed on his knowledge of fast and safe driving to countless course participants. In the “golden” 1960s for the classic Mini Years ago, the Monte Carlo Rally started with a rally that began in several European cities. The journey to the first special stage often turned into an adventurous journey. With this knowledge, it was now a matter of honor for the MINI team to undertake a true marathon for the sake of Rauno Aaltonen. From Munich, the trailer in tow of the MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 initially headed straight for the Baltic Sea, and after a 30-hour ferry ride, the team made its way for another 14 hours on the roads of Finland, some of which were already snowy in winter. The destination of the pre-Christmas mission was Rovaniemi. The capital of the Lapland region is known worldwide as the “official home of Santa Claus”. However, the MINI team did not have to submit a wish list, but rather to bring a gift. The handover of a present with warm regards from Munich was of course contactless, and the transporter opened as if moved by magic. The trailer, decorated with a picture of a classic Mini, actually left no doubt about its content, but Rauno Aaltonen was visibly touched when the red classic with the white roof rolled out, although it didn’t lose much time. A little later the snow was flying in a high arc, and the old master roared away drifting on an extensive tour through deeply snow-covered Finnish forests. No question about it: Rauno Aaltonen couldn’t have given a better present. The forced break was finally over and he was finally able to “play the piano with his feet” again. On the way towards the Arctic Circle, he must have started his own version of a well-known Christmas carol. Instead of “Driving Home for Christmas” it was for him “Driving at Home before Christmas”.

If you have any questions, please contact: Press and Public RelationsMatthias Bode, Press Spokesman for Product Communication MINI Telephone: + 49-89-382-61742E-Mail: Andreas Lampka, Head of Communication MINI Telephone: + 49-89-382-23662E -Mail: andreas.lampka@mini.comJenniferreiber-Ruckenbrod, Head of Communication MINI and BMW MotorradTelephone: + 49-89-382-35108E-Mail: jennifer.ruckenbrod@bmwgroup.comThe BMW GroupThe BMW Group is with its brands BMW, MINI , Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and provider of premium financial and mobility services. The BMW Group production network comprises 31 production and assembly sites in 15 countries; The company has a global sales network with representatives in over 140 countries. In 2019, the BMW Group achieved worldwide sales of more than 2.5 million automobiles and over 175,000 motorcycles. Earnings before taxes in fiscal year 2019 amounted to € 7.118 billion and sales to € 104.210 billion. As of December 31, 2019, the company employed 126,016 people worldwide and long-term thinking and responsible action have always been the basis of the BMW Group’s economic success. The company has firmly anchored ecological and social sustainability along the entire value chain, comprehensive product stewardship and a clear commitment to conserving resources in its strategy. Www.bmwgroup.comFacebook: http: //

The information on fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and electricity consumption is determined in accordance with the prescribed measuring method VO (EU) 2007/715 in the currently applicable version. The information relates to a vehicle with basic equipment in Germany, the ranges take into account differences in the selected wheel and tire size and the optional special equipment and can change during configuration. The information has already been determined on the basis of the new WLTP test cycle and for comparability calculated back to NEDC. For these vehicles, other values ​​than those given here may apply to the assessment of taxes and other vehicle-related charges that are (also) based on CO2 emissions.Further information on official fuel consumption and the official specific CO2 emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the ‘ Guide to the fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and electricity consumption of new passenger vehicles’, which is available at all sales outlets at Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH (DAT), Hellmuth-Hirth-Str. 1, 73760 Ostfildern-Scharnhausen, and is available free of charge at


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