The Return of the Mini Rally Car
It should of course be ‘MINI’ as it’s the BMW-owned company which will be footing the bill, but, industrial protocol aside, the great news is that a 4wd MINI Countryman WRC will be contesting a limited number of international events next year, prior to a full season in 2012.
The production-based five-door will be powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine from BMW Motorsport, and has been under development by the Banbury company since early 2009. It will compete under the new Super2000 regulations, put in place by the FIA for 1600cc, 4wd machinery with engineering clearly relevant to road cars and much-reduced levels of cost.
The exploits of the then-Abingdon-based team in the 1960s with Hopkirk, Aaltonen and Mäkinen in red/white Mini Coopers on the Monte Carlo Rally helped create the Mini legend. While the BMW MINI has been raced and rallied since its launch, this is the biggest competition effort by MINI yet, with the car ideal for the new regulations.
Prodrive Chairman, David Richards, commenting on the Countryman WRC said: “This is a very exciting new motorsport programme. During the 1960s, [the] 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.”
Text: Steve Wakefield
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