After a long break, MINI is making a comeback in the world of rallying starting from next season with a Prodrive built and developed Countryman crossover. The BMW Group said that MINI, whose Cooper model won the Monte Carlo Rally three times in the 1960s, was planning its racing involvement “for several years”.
The Countryman WRC complies with the new Super2000 regulations and will be powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged engine from BMW Motorsport and have an all-wheel drive system. Prodrive, which ran Subaru’s world championship-winning team until the Japanese automaker pulled out at the end of 2008, has been working on the development of the car since early 2009.
Testing of the Countryman WRC, which will also be available to customer teams, will start in autumn 2010, while from 2011, the brand will compete at selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) before completing the full series in 2012.
Prodrive boss, David Richards, told Reuters in a telephone interview that the target is to win the WRC title within three years.
“The target is clearly to be competitive from the outset and we have set a target with BMW and Mini of the world title within the next three years,” said Richards.
“We [Prodrive] have got six world titles to our credit already so we’ve been there before and know what it takes to do it. We are setting about that task very meticulously.”
The British firm has not made any announcement concerning the drivers, though there have been rumors about Marcus Gronholm and Markko Martin as well as Mads Ostberg.