It’s official, Mini is back on the world rallying scene and this is the machine to take it there. Visitors to the Paris Motor Show have just witnessed the unveiling of Mini’s brand new rally weapon and it looks ‘the business’.
Working in with Prodrive, Mini is poised to re-enter the World Rally Championship after many decades painfully watching from the sidelines. Now, with its Countryman WRC, Mini is once again ready to compete in the 2011 season with the car driven by Kris Meeke.
The 2011 World Rally Championship will be a preparatory year for Mini and will see the new machine contesting in six of 13 scheduled rounds, with Mini then competing in the full 2012 season. In addition, Prodrive plans to make available customer versions to independent teams for use in the championship.
Wedged under the bonnet is a BMW Motorsport-tuned 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that uses direct injection and meets all FIA S2000 regulations (meaning it may have more applications outside the WRC). The powerhouse four-pot is mated to an Xtrac 6-speed sequential transmission. According to Mini the car has been extensively tested on Prodrive’s own rally track and represented itself well and is now ready to rock.
BMW’s Ian Robertson had this to say on the Mini WRC launch, “The Paris Motor Show is the perfect stage on which to launch our MINI WRC. The response to our announcement that MINI will return to the world of rallying next year was very positive. The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand. The development of the car is running on schedule, and the preparations for the world championship are in full swing. The MINI Countryman production model provided the ideal basis for our new world championship challenger.”