You'll get a dozen different replies to this question. Certainly, holding to the owners manual guidlines isn't going to hurt the car other than possibly not getting the full power potential from the motor some will say. While I didn't hold tight to Mini's guidlines, I didn't rag it out for the first 1250 miles either. Yes, I reved it over 4,000 rpm occassionally and I opened the throttle wide open at times. But I didn't run it to red line or beyond and I didn't take it down the interstate cruising along at 85 mph for hours on end.
So, no matter what any of us tell you, it's all going to come down to you. If you decide to hold the line firm with Mini's guidlines, good luck. You better start practicing short shifting, because the MCS
will zing past 4 grand faster than you can glance at the tach.
Most importanly, have fun.