MINI’s return to the World Rally Championship has been the worst kept secret in motorsport. However, at the Paris Motor Show, the firm finally confirmed it would enter its new Countryman WRC in selected events in the WRC in 2011, ahead of a full campaign next year.
The car will be built by legendary motorsports firm Prodrive to the all-new WRC rules which stipulate that cars are powered by 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo engines.
Prodrive is currently working hard to get the MINI ready for its first competitive outing, which is likely to be in Portugal in March, and has tested the car at its private test track in Warwickshire, as well as outings in Portugal and Sardinia.
Prodrive’s technical director, David Lapworth, said. “As with any totally new car, it is vital to take time to ensure all the systems are working as intended.”
Brit Kris Meeke and ex-Citroen ace Dani Sordo will drive the Countryman WRC. Prodrive will also sell cars to private teams, and has already sold eight cars. The firm can run up to six cars for privateers on WRC events, alongside its two-car works line-up.