Here we have two interviews for you from Paris about MINI’s return to rally racing. One from Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management, Sales and Marketing BMW Group, and another Prodrive Chairman and Chief Executive, David Richards.
Beginning first with Ian Robertson from BMW.
Mr Robertson, MINI is back in motorsport. What does this move mean for the brand?
Ian Robertson: â€œOur involvement in the World Rally Championship effectively sees MINI returning to its roots. In the early years, success in the world of motorsport contributed significantly to the rapid rise of the MINI. Back then, people saw that this little car not only looked good in everyday traffic, but also had a sporty side. This has not changed since then. We chose the World Rally Championship for our stage in order to prove the sportiness of MINI cars to today’s generation of drivers. The commitment also reinforces the key values of the MINI brand, â€˜excitementâ€™ and â€˜energyâ€™ as well underlining the manly side of the brand.â€ continued →
MINI has just released the first real photos and full specifications of the WRC Countryman. While there are no real surprises (if you know your WRC cars) it is noteworthy to see some of the details.
As we’ve reported MINI WRC was developed by Prodrive in accordance to the new FIA Super 2000 regulations on the basis of the MINI Countryman production model. However the engine is 100% BMW Motorsport. What we still don’t know is how closely (if at all) it’s related to factory the MINI/JCW powerplant.
Looking at the design of the car we see the JCW brand is used thoroughly and there are some new radical elements we hadn’t seen before. The car features the classic Red and White MINI rally livery from the 1960 but it’s clearly updated and modern in every way. Also evident are the pains MINI has gone through to keep the stock look of the WRC Countryman. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this not only looks next to the new Ford Fiesta and Citroen’s new DS3 rally cars.
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Length: 4,110 mm
Width: 1,820 mm
Weight: 1,200 kg (FIA minimum weight)
BMW Motorsport 1,600 cc, direct injection petrol Garrett turbocharger – maximum boost 2.5 bar Dry sump
Permanent four wheel drive Gearbox: Xtrac 6-speed sequential continued →
MINI is introducing it’s first factory rally car in over 40 years at the Paris Motorshow today. We’ll have photos, technical specifications and interviews but first, here’s a bit of background on the project and the plans ahead.
First off the MINI WRC, powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder Di turbo-charged engine, recently received a baptism of fire, acquitting itself well during initial testing at Prodriveâ€™s rally track (as seen on MF a few weeks back).
â€œThe Paris Motor Show is the perfect stage, on which to launch our MINI WRC,â€ says Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing. â€œThe response to our announcement that MINI will return to the world of rallying next year was very positive. The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand. The development of the car is running on schedule, and the preparations for the world championship are in full swing. The MINI Countryman production model provided the ideal basis for our new world championship challenger.â€ continued →
Ian Robertson, Board Member for Sales and Marketing at BMW Group, introduced MINI’s exhibit to the Paris Motor Show yesterday. Below is the transcript of his remarks, introduced by Philippe Dehennin, President of BMW Group France.
“Bonjour and thank you for joining us at MINI!
My name is Philippe Dehennin and I am the President of BMW Group France.
Ten years ago, MINI stole the show here in Paris when the long-awaited new MINI was unveiled.The new MINI was greeted warmly in Paris and by fans all over the world.
As the worldâ€™s first premium small car, the MINI has been an unparalleled success since then.
In France, people love the MINI because of its unbeatable urban â€œchicâ€: a brand which knows how to combine authenticity with novelty, and style with excitement.
And Parisians love its extroverted and likeable character! MINI has this little â€œquelque-choseâ€ as we Frenchmen like to say, that can make even the most stressed out Parisian smile. continued →
This morning BMW and Saab announced that Saab will be using BMW powerplants in future front wheel drive Saab products. However thanks to various sources it’s become clear that Saab has not just signed an agreement to use BMW engines in future products but to use MINI’s current Prince range of engines in several products. We can confirm the first will be the 9-2 hatchback potentially followed by the next generation 9-3 family of vehicles.
But why would BMW give Saab the same engine range from the MINI for a car that will likely compete with it? Economies of scale would be a good reason. But we’re not so sure it’s that simple.
We know that 2013 will bring a new MINI hatch that will in turn bring an entire new MINI family of small cars. We also know that BMW is planning on using new three cylinder engines in this new range of products along with a new generation of FWD (and potentially even RWD) BMWs. So where does the Prince family of engines fit into BMW’s future plans? continued →
It’s not 100% clear which four cylinder Saab will be getting but we believe it will be a modified engine from the Prince family (the current MINI powerplant) for use in the upcoming 9-2 front wheel drive hatch. While it surely gives MINI and BMW more economies of scale for engine development (and profit) it gives a soon to be competitor a world class powertrain.
Official Release: The BMW Group has received a major order from Swedish automobile manufacturer Saab to provide petrol engines. The contract for delivery of the engines as of 2012 was signed on Wednesday by Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing, and the CEO of Saab Automobile, Jan Ã…ke Jonsson, in TrollhÃ¤ttan in Sweden. The 4-cylinder engine with latest fuel savings technologies is intended for a new Saab model series. Both companies have agreed not to disclose any financial or contract volume details. continued →
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