MINI introduces its new rally car to the world

The new Mini world rally car takes its bow.

THE new MINI WRC Team was officially presented to the public at the Team Launch at the MINI Plant in Oxford THEs the return of the Mini brand to one of the biggest stages in motorsport moves ever closer.
The team will contest six rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC this season. The car will be tested against its rivals for the first time at the Rally d’Italia Sardegna from 5th to 8th May 2011. The goal in the debut season is to gain valuable experience to be perfectly prepared to take on the entire 2012 World Rally Championship.
MINI has a long history of success in rallying. Paddy Hopkirk, Timo Mäkinen  and Rauno Aaltonen won the Rallye Monte Carlo in the Classic Mini Cooper S in 1964, 1965 and 1967. Today’s driving teams of Brit Kris Meeke and Irishman Paul Nagle and the Spanish pairing of Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio are keen to follow in the footsteps of the “Three Musketeers”.
At the launch the spotlight was initially on Hopkirk and Aaltonen as they drove onto the stage behind the wheel of the legendary Classic Mini Cooper S. The guests and media representatives were then treated to their first look at the MINI John Cooper Works WRC in its final World Championship design. The car was developed by Prodrive, based on the MINI Countryman production model.
“On the one hand, MINI can look back on a unique success story,” said Ian Robertson, from BMW. “On the other hand, MINI is the epitome of excitement for millions of fans around the world and thrills them with its energy. This is precisely what we are able to authentically represent through our motorsport involvement in the World Rally Championship. Thrilling rally events, ultimate performances by man and machine, and as much success as possible, of course: motorsport is pure emotion – just as MINI is for its fans.”
David Richards, Chairman and Chief Executive of the Prodrive Group, is also looking forward to the first rally for the new MINI John Cooper Works WRC. He said: “We have been working towards this moment for more than two years and it is truly exciting to be launching the MINI WRC Team and what I believe is the most stunning car in World Rallying, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. We have an experienced team, a talented driver pairing and, most importantly of all, a strong partnership with MINI. We are now eagerly looking forward to demonstrating the performance of the car on its debut in Sardinia in just a few weeks.”
David Wilcock, Technical Director of the MINI WRC Team, presented the guests with the most important details of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC and said: “This Team Launch is really perfectly timed for us. We look back at some extremely demanding and busy months. Now we are entering the crucial phase of our preparation programme for the first rally. We started the development of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC early. It was important to make sure the ratio between development and actual building of the car was right. Our goal was to maximise every area of performance we could get from the technical regulations. Our first rally appearances will show how well we achieved this. In any case I can say that the partnership between MINI, Prodrive and BMW Motorsport on the engine side is running exceptionally well, everyone is contributing to the project with a lot of enthusiasm.”
Having already completed several thousand kilometres of tests behind the wheel of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC, drivers Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo can hardly wait to finally compete in the first rally for the MINI WRC Team. “This launch is the next milestone on the long way to our first rally,” said Meeke following the presentation of the car. “I cannot wait to get the season started. It’s nice for everyone in the team to see the result of their work presented in such a spectacular way. The heritage of MINI in motorsport is fantastic. Now we want to make sure we play our part in adding some more chapters to the success story.”
The MINI John Cooper Works WRC is powered by a 1.6-litre turbo engine also used in MINI production cars, which was developed by BMW Motorsport for use in series complying with FIA Super 2000 regulations, including the World Touring Car Championship. As well as being responsible for the works team’s MINI John Cooper Works WRC cars, Prodrive also supplies customer cars to teams lining up in the World Rally Championship. This applies to the WRC and S2000 versions of the new rally MINI.