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MINI Ireland has announced that it is going to support the Early-Drive programme being run by Mondello Park race circuit in Kildare. The idea behind Early-Drive is to get younger drivers behind the wheel from the age of 15, in safe and controlled circumstances. It gives them the benefit of starting their driver training at an earlier age, as well as the benefit of experience from Mondello's driver training team.
Developed in association with the Irish School of Motoring, the course includes a road safety classroom session, practical demonstration and a chance for students to undergo their first lesson on a purpose built track with road markings, traffic lights and warning signs, giving the experience of a main road environment. This year the programme has been expanded to include a virtual reality simulator to give students insights and knowledge of various types of distracted and dangerous driving.
Already, more than 2,500 students go through the course every year, and MINI Ireland is now going to supply four MINI hatchback models, each equipped with dual-driving controls, to the course.
On top of that, free places on the course will be awarded to transition year students from around the country, picked by their local MINI dealer.
Mondello Park General Manager Roddy Greene welcomed MINI's expanded support of the venue saying: "We are delighted to partner with MINI on our Early-Drive programme. Road safety is such an important topic and the Early-Drive programme offers young people the chance to drive in a controlled environment and learn about road safety."
Austin Behan General Manager for MINI Ireland said: "MINI has been for generations, the chosen car to learn to drive in thanks to smart design and engineering quality. Nothing beats the feeling of your hands behind the wheel of a Mini with its close-to-the-ground, go-kart feeling. We are excited to work with Mondello Park and drive this programme to help make a difference on our road."
Any schools looking to get involved in the course should contact their local MINI dealer via the MINI Ireland Facebook page.
For those looking for something a little more, shall we say brisk, Mondello is also working with the wider BMW and MINI group to update its high-performance driver training and instruction cars. The training fleet now starts with 190hp MINI Cooper S hatchbacks, and drivers will then progress to high-performance BMW M2 Competition and M4 Competition coupes. The new M2 Competition has 410hp and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 4.2 seconds.
In addition, all courses now include complimentary hospitality in the VIP BMW Lounge, an individual BMW Lifestyle gift and certificate for all participants