With the new regulations imposed by the FIA for the 2011 season, the WRC-prepared Countryman will be fitted with BMW's 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and will be built in Banbury, UK. The car's first tests will go down starting this autumn, with the team preparing for a part-time schedule for the 2011 season. The plan is to prepare a full campaign in 2012.
“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 always shown great interest in motorsport,” said Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing, in a statement.
“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.”
Prodrive chairman David Richards also stated his enthusiasm over getting to nurse the WRC efforts of a marque that used to win the 4,000km Monte Carlo rally back in 1967.
“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,” added Richards.
Further information regarding the potential lineup of the new Mini team, the exact date of testing or the official return to competition in 2011 is yet to be released by the German squad.