Mini to stage WRC comeback with new Countryman

Mini to stage WRC comeback with new Countryman

There was a time when Mini would show up at a rally event, kick some butt and then just cruise off into the sunset. Those days could now return. After a long break, Mini is making a comeback in the world of rallying starting next season with a Prodrive built and developed Countryman crossover. The BMW Group claims that Mini, whose Cooper model won the Monte Carlo Rally three times in the 1960s, has been planning a return to WRC for several years.

The new Countryman compact SUV gives Mini the vessel for a strong return to the WRC and complies with the new Super2000 regulations. The car will be powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged engine from BMW Motorsport and use an all-wheel drive system. Prodrive, which is most famous for running Subaru’s world championship-winning team until the end of the 2008 season, has been working on the development of the car since early 2009.

The Countryman WRC car will also be made available to customer teams and will be first tested later this year, next year the car will compete at selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) before completing the full series in 2012.

Prodrive boss, David Richards, said in a recent interview that the target is to win the WRC title within three years.

“The target is clearly to be competitive from the outset and we have set a target with BMW and Mini of the world title within the next three years,” said Richards.

“We [Prodrive] have got six world titles to our credit already so we’ve been there before and know what it takes to do it. We are setting about that task very meticulously.”

Neither Prodrive or Mini has not made any announcement about drivers, though there have already been rumours about Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin as well as Mads Ostberg.

There was a time when Mini would show up at a rally event, kick some butt and then just cruise off into the sunset. Those days could now return. After a long break, Mini is making a comeback in the world of rallying starting next season with a Prodrive built and developed Countryman crossover. The BMW Group claims that Mini, whose Cooper model won the Monte Carlo Rally three times in the 1960s, has been planning a return to WRC for several years.

The new Countryman compact SUV gives Mini the vessel for a strong return to the WRC and complies with the new Super2000 regulations. The car will be powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged engine from BMW Motorsport and use an all-wheel drive system. Prodrive, which is most famous for running Subaru’s world championship-winning team until the end of the 2008 season, has been working on the development of the car since early 2009.

The Countryman WRC car will also be made available to customer teams and will be first tested later this year, next year the car will compete at selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) before completing the full series in 2012.

Prodrive boss, David Richards, said in a recent interview that the target is to win the WRC title within three years.

“The target is clearly to be competitive from the outset and we have set a target with BMW and Mini of the world title within the next three years,” said Richards.

“We [Prodrive] have got six world titles to our credit already so we’ve been there before and know what it takes to do it. We are setting about that task very meticulously.”

Neither Prodrive or Mini has not made any announcement about drivers, though there have already been rumours about Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin as well as Mads Ostberg.

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