From next year, Mini will compete at selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and will go on to contest the entire season from 2012 onwards.
The car charged with this task is the Mini Countryman WRC, which is being developed by Prodrive, in close cooperation with Mini, and is based on the production model.
The heart of the racing car is a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged engine from BMW Motorsport. The first test drive for the Mini Countryman WRC is planned for autumn 2010.
This new endeavour looks to continue Mini’s success story in the world of rallying. In the 1960s, the Mini Cooper S caused a sensation with victories at the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. The company also tasted success on many occasions in the European Rally Championship.
Prodrive Chairman, David Richards, says: “This is a very exciting new motorsport programme. During the 1960s Mini captured the imagination of the world when the tiny car took on the might of V8 powered Fords and won what was then one of the toughest motorsport events, the 4000km Monte Carlo rally. I believe our new Mini will become a firm favourite of the latest generation of rally fans, just as it is adored by its millions of owners across the world. We already have a significant number of confirmed customer orders for the new Mini rally car with the first deliveries scheduled for the start of the 2011 season.”
Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing, says: “I am delighted Mini will be represented on one of the most popular stages in international motorsport. The success enjoyed on the rally circuit has made a vital contribution to the image of the brand. Mini customers have always shown great interest in motorsport. I am convinced we will add a few more chapters to our success story in rallying. The Mini Countryman provides an excellent basis, from which to create a competitive racing car for the world championship. In Prodrive, we have a strong and experienced partner. We will work hard together over the coming months to ensure we get the project on track right from the word go.”
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