The long long rumored Prodrive WRC rally entry looks to finally come to fruition this week. AutosportMini’s first-ever World Rally Car, which will be based on the Countryman road car, has been in preparation for months at Prodrive’s Banbury base and the BMW 1.6-litre turbocharged engine recently arrived to turn a rolling shell into a full World Rally Car. Testing of the new machine is expected to begin soon and, as technical director David Lapworth said, once it starts testing it will not stop.
>”When we start testing on our rally car development programme, it will be intensive,” said Lapworth. “We still have a good timescale to work towards for testing and we’re happy with where we’re at.”
>Some sources have indicated Mini will formally launch the car in Rome just ahead of the Rally d’Italia-Sardegna in May next season – the car is not expected to compete in any of the first four rounds of next year’s World Rally Championship.
>Prodrive has remained tight-lipped about any announcement this week, denying that it has anything planned. The British preparation firm has yet to even admit to any kind of agreement with BMW or Mini – even though AUTOSPORT broke the story of Mini’s return to rallying’s highest level in August last year.
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This highly anticipated WRC entry will be the first factory backed MINI rally effort in decades and the first time MINI has officially participated in a FIA sanctioned series ever. It will also be the philosophical basis of a stripped down JCW version of the Countryman due in the next few years.
We’ll have much more later this week.