Mini counting down to international motorsport return

Mini counting down to international motorsport return

The wait is almost over for the return of Mini to the international motorsport stage. This season, the new Mini WRC Team will compete at selected rounds in the FIA World Rally Championship. The initial aim is to gain valuable experience, in order to be perfectly prepared for the complete 2012 World Championship season. The Mini John Cooper Works WRC has been developed by Prodrive, based on the Mini Countryman. It’s equipped with a 1.6-litre turbo engine derived from the Mini production models, which was developed by BMW Motorsport for use in a series run according to FIA Super2000 regulations, including the World Touring Car Championship. Beside its works involvement with the Mini John Cooper Works WRC, Prodrive is also supplying customer cars to private rally teams.

“The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand,” says Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management, Sales and Marketing BMW Group. “Experience is a very important factor in motorsport. For that reason it is essential we learn as much as possible within a very short time, in order to make up ground on our rivals. The new regulations mean the gap to the top is smaller than it would have been at another time. We want to annoy the opposition as soon as possible.”

The Mini WRC Team will be putting its faith in experienced drivers when it faces up to the challenge of the WRC for the first time in 2011. Kris Meeke (GB) and his co-driver Paul Nagle (IR) have proven their ability in impressive style, listing the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) title as just one of their achievements. Daniel “Dani” Sordo (ES), who will compete alongside his new co-driver Carlos del Barrio (ES) in 2011, has many years of World Championship experience. Twenty nine podium finishes from 84 starts in the WRC just go to show the former Citroën works driver has what it takes to battle it out at the top.

Rallying is far from new territory for Mini. In the past, success in this popular motorsport discipline has played a crucial role in defining the brand’s image. Three victories at the Rally Monte Carlo in the 1960s made the Mini Cooper S a true legend. Mini also competed in the European Rally Championship, where it once again notched up countless triumphs.

The Mini WRC Team has now completed thousands of kilometres of exhaustive testing as part of an intensive development programme for the Mini John Cooper Works WRC, with further sessions planned ahead of the team’s debut on Rally Italia in early May. The car to be used in the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship will be presented at the official Team Launch on 11th April 2011 at the Mini Plant Oxford.

The Mini Countryman is the youngest Mini model and also the first to be equipped with an all-wheel- drive system. Therefore this model provided the logical basis for a competitive rally derivative. The flagship Mini Cooper S Countryman is powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, supplemented not only by a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection, but also fully variable valve management – so offering by far the best relationship between engine power and fuel consumption in its class. The engine produces 135 kW / 184 bhp, and accelerates the Mini Cooper S Countryman from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds.

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