MINI to Pull Out of the WRC at the End of 2012 Pointing Towards the Financial Crisis as the Reason

Just as suddenly as it entered the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) after a decades-long hiatus in 2011, the BMW Group’s MINI brand is abandoning the sport. On Friday afternoon, the British carmaker announced that it will terminate its works involvement in the WRC at the end of the 2012 season by withdrawing its financial support for “WRC Team Mini Portugal”. The bad news came from Kay Segler, Senior Vice President MINI Business Coordination and Brand Management. “MINI will abandon its works involvement in the WRC at the end of the 2012 season,” said Segler. The MINI exec said that since the brand will complete the season, the Countryman John Cooper Works-based racecar will have achieved its homologation obligations, thus allowing private teams to compete with the car in the series on a customer rallying basis. Segler added: “BMW Motorsport will continue to further develop the 1.6-litre turbo engine in conjunction with Prodrive. In a very difficult commercial environment, MINI has played an active role in ensuring that friends of the MINI brand can continue to participate in motorsport. As such, the MINI family is retaining its presence on various international platforms and getting even closer to its customers.” The automaker pointed out that Prodrive will still be able to run, optimize and sell the Countryman JCW WRC in the future. In its fairly short stint in the WRC, the Countryman collected three podiums and several top-ten finishes, with its biggest success coming from Dani Sordo (ES) in January of 2012, when he finished second at the comeback of the brand at the famed Monte Carlo Rally.