Mini to Compete in the 2011 World Rally Championship - Racing
Prodrive’s new Countryman WRC hopes to recapture some of Mini’s 1960’s rally glory.
By Andrew Bornhop
July 27, 2010
In a surprise announcement, Prodrive—the English company synonymous with rallying success—has said that it is developing a Mini Countryman to compete in the FIA Super2000 class of the World Rally Championship in 2011 and beyond. This Mini Countryman WRC, produced in close cooperation with Mini, will be an all-wheel-drive machine powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder built by BMW Motorsport. The first test is scheduled to take place this fall, likely in England.
The Mini name is legendary in rallying, with drivers such as Paddy Hopkirk competing in the tiny car against the likes of the V-8-powered Fords in the 1960s, even winning the famed Monte Carlo Rallye three times!
BMW also has rally heritage, the Bavarian firm present when the World Rally Championship made its debut in 1973, the same year Achim Warmbold and Jean Todt (yes, that Jean Todt) tasted victory in the Alpenfahrt Rally in Austria, driving a BMW 2002. Also of note, BMW’s last rally win came in 1987, when Bernard Beguin in an M3 built by Prodrive, earned a victory in the Corsican Rally.
Says David Richards, Prodrive Chairman: “I believe our new Mini will become a firm favorite 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, says the Countryman provides “an excellent basis from which to create a competitive racing car for the world championship.” Roberston also adds that he’s pleased to link up with Prodrive for this effort, which is planned to last several years.