Schirra Mini JCW GTS howled round the Ring in 7m44s.

Nurburg, Germany - The record for the fastest lap of the Nurburgring by a front-wheel drive car of 7m54 - set by the Renault Megane RS275 Trophy-R - is not only a benchmark; it's also a target.

One that German aftermarket specialist tuner Schirra Motoring took aim at - with a Mini.

First they tweaked the 1.6-litre turbo engine of the yellow John Cooper Works, boosting output from 155kW to a frenetic 214kW, dropped in a Drexler limited-slip differential in an attempt to counteract the Mini's now-brutal torque steer, and fitted super-sticky Dunlop Direzza 03G street-legal semi-slicks.

But that was the easy part. Mindful of design genius Colin Chapman's dictum, "Make a car more powerful and it will go faster on the straights; make it lighter and it will go faster everywhere!", the benzienkopfen at Schirra set themselves the target of getting the Mini's weight under a ton.

LIGHTWEIGHT REPLACEMENTS

Given that a stock JCW tips the scale at 1180kg, that's a big ask - but by removing all extraneous trim and ditching as many standard components as possible in favour of lightweight replacements, they very nearly succeeded; in track trim the Schirra Mini JCW GTS weighs just 1005kg!

And with Sport Auto magazine's test driver Christian Gebhardt at the wheel, it howled round the 'Ring in 7m44s - a full 10 seconds quicker than the Megane's time.

OK, it's not a standard production car, so the Renault's benchmark stands, but it is the fastest time yet by an front-wheel drive car of any kind, quicker than a standard Pagani Zonda or Audi R8 V10, and that's not bad company to be in.