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The MINI Countryman WRC 2011


MINI is making a comeback in international rally racing. From 2011, the brand will compete in selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and will go on to contest the entire season from 2012. The brand’s involvement is planned for several years.
The car charged with this task is the MINI Countryman WRC, which is being developed by Prodrive in close cooperation with MINI and is based on the production model. The powerful heart of the racing car is a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine from BMW Motorsport. The car complies with the new Super2000 regulations put in place by the International Automobile Federation (FIA). These stipulate the use of turbo engines with 1,600 cc displacement and four-wheel drive, and the WRC now also features an increased emphasis on road-relevant technologies. The result is an impressive 25 percent reduction in overall costs. The first test for the MINI Countryman WRC, which will also be available to customer teams, is scheduled for autumn 2010.
This decision sees MINI continue its success story in the world of rallying. In the 1960s, the Mini Cooper S caused a sensation with victories at the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. The company also tasted success on many occasions in the European Rally Championship. Having already demonstrated the sporty character of its models in many countries through the MINI CHALLENGE, the brand is now taking its presence in motorsport to a new level with its involvement in the WRC.
Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing, says: “I am delighted MINI will be represented on one of the most popular stages in international motorsport. The success enjoyed on the rally circuit has made a vital contribution to the image of the brand. MINI customers have shown great interest in motorsport. I am convinced we will add a few more chapters to our success story in rallying. The MINI Countryman provides an excellent basis from which to create a competitive racing car for the world championship. In Prodrive, we have a strong and experienced partner. We will work hard together over the coming months to ensure we get the project on track right from the word go.”
“This is a very exciting new motorsport programme,” said Prodrive Chairman David Richards. “During the 1960s Mini captured the imagination of the world when the tiny car took on the might of V8-powered Fords and won what was then one of the toughest motorsport events, the 4,000 km Monte Carlo Rally. I believe our new MINI will become a firm favourite 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.”
Prodrive has been working on developing the MINI Countryman WRC since early 2009. The company was formed in 1984 by Richards, who won the World Rally Championship as co-driver to the Finn Ari Vatanen three years earlier. Based in Banbury, England, Prodrive has developed into a leading independent company in the motorsport and automobile sector under Richards’ guidance, and today employs over 500 staff. Prodrive’s many successes currently include six overall victories in the World Rally Championship, five titles in the British Touring Car Championship and three class victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours race in France.
MINI in rally racing: giant-slayer and crowd favourite.
BMW was present when the World Rally Championship made its debut back in 1973. Germany’s Achim Warmbold and Frenchman Jean Todt tasted victory in their BMW 2002 at the Alpenfahrt Rally in Austria. However, MINI’s tradition in this discipline stretches back even further: British driver Pat Moss piloted the Mini 850 to its maiden victory at the 1959 Mini Miglia National Rally. MINI ultimately MINI Media Information 9/2010 Page 19
enjoyed its finest hours in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967, as the Mini Cooper S celebrated three overall victories in the world’s most iconic rally. Paddy Hopkirk (Ireland, 1964), Timo Mäkinen (Finland, 1965) and Rauno Aaltonen (Finland, 1967) added their names to the list of winners in this prestigious event. In 1965 “Rally Professor” Aaltonen also won the European Rally Championship, with Britain’s Tony Ambrose and Mäkinen finishing second and third to round off an excellent overall result for the Mini Cooper S. In addition, MINI drivers also enjoyed many individual wins at renowned rallies throughout Europe. BMW achieved its most recent World Rally Championship victory in Corsica in 1987, courtesy of Frenchman Bernard Béguin at the wheel of a Prodrive BMW M3.

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The MINI Countryman WRC 2011 The MINI Countryman WRC 2011 The MINI Countryman WRC 2011

 

 

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