Today MINI has taken the wraps off of the final Countryman JCW S2000 Rally car. This is the final design and specification that the MINI WRC Team will entrust to drivers Dani Sordo (ES) and Kris Meeke (GB) for its debut in the premier category of rallying at the Rally Italy from 5 â€“ 8 May 2011. Further entries are planned in the WRC events in Finland, Germany, France, Spain and Great Britain. And based on early reports it looks like private teams will line up with the Super2000 version of the car at the end of March in Rally Portugal. (Hi-res photos & video after the break)
â€œWe are delighted to present the MINI John Cooper Works S2000 here in Geneva,â€ said Dr Wolfgang Armbrecht, Senior Vice President Brand Management MINI. â€œMINI has joined forces with a highly experienced partner in Prodrive, and our colleagues in England continue to oversee the development of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. When you add the turbocharged MINI engine and the BMW Groupâ€™s expertise in the world of motor sport to the mix, you can see we have an exceptional blend of attributes which will take us quickly to the next stage. The carâ€™s technical make-up and driving characteristics make it the perfect fit for rallying. Entering the WRC takes MINI back to its rally roots and brings this heritage right up to date.â€
Versatility lies at the heart of the new rule-book drawn up by the sportâ€™s world governing body, the FIA. The 2011 regulations put private teams in a position to line up with the same cars as the factory team. The idea is to allow for the unexpected. In Portugal, for example, the Brazil World Rally Team will be sending the Brazilian Daniel Oliveira into action in a MINI John Cooper Works S2000, and reigning PWRC champion Armindo Araujo (PT) will line up in a MINI for the Motorsport Italia outfit. Oliveira and Araujo will then swap over to the MINI John Cooper Works WRC for Rally Italy. Prodrive is currently working on 12 MINI rally cars for delivery to customers across Europe.
Three key areas set the WRC car apart from its Super2000 sibling. The MINI John Cooper Works WRC will gain a larger rear wing and its front end will boast greater aerodynamic efficiency. On asphalt rallies the WRC machine will be fitted with water-cooled brakes on the front axle, while the side windows of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC will be made from ultra-lightweight plastic.
The powerful heartbeat of both cars will be generated by the turbocharged 1.6-litre engine used in standard MINI production cars, but optimised by BMW Motorsport for use in numerous race series. Indeed, this engine also powers the BMW 320 TC run by privately-entered teams in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. So it looks like those rumors of a MINI engine in a BMW finally came to fruition. Just a little differently than we expected!
The diameter of the air intake restrictor is also identical, although Prodrive also offers a variant with a smaller restrictor for championships where WRC cars are not permitted. Customer teams can order both the MINI John Cooper Works WRC and the Super2000-specification car from Prodrive as part of an extensive service package (which we published last year here).
The MINI WRC Team has further tests lined up over the coming weeks, before the car is presented to the public at the MINI plant in Oxford (GB) on 11th April 2011. However as part of the launch process the official MINI Motorsport website www.MINImotorsport.com is now live. On the site fans can find news, pictures, videos and much more besides on the brandâ€™s motor sport activities; features include detailed profiles of both the MINI WRC Team and the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. MINI Motorsport is already up and running on Facebook and YouTube (www.facebook.com/MINImotorsport and www.youtube.com/MINImotorsport).
The FIA WRC Calendar 2011
– 10-13 February 2011 / Rally Sweden
– 3-6 March 2011 / Rally Mexico
– 24-27 March 2011 / Rally Portugal
– 14-16 April 2011 / Rally Jordan
– 5-8 May 2011 / Rally Italy*
– 26-29 May 2011 / Rally Argentina
– 16-19 June 2011 / Rally Greece
– 28-31 July 2011 / Rally Finland*
– 18-21 August 2011 / Rally Germany*
– 8-11 September 2011 / Rally Australia
– 29 September-2 October 2011 / Rally France*
– 20-23 October 2011 / Rally Spain*
– 10-13 November 2011 / Rally GB*
* The MINI WRC Team is planning to enter these events
High Resolution Photos
Portions of this report are taken from the official press release.