Confirmed: BMW to Alter Prodrive Relation

It’s seemingly getting more and more official. According to Autosport BMW and Prodrive will be reaching a solution to their dispute over finances next week. At that time the Prodrive’s contract to run MINI’s John Cooper Works WRC team will be terminated.

  • 🙁

  • jeff

    granted that i don’t understand the difference in cost for the different championships, but it’s disappointing that BMW isn’t supporting the WRC effort and running 6 cars in DTM at the same time.

    • Anonymous

      The return on investment is huge in DTM. DTM is also very cost efficient for manufacturers- they used standardized chassis and shared parts to keep costs down. Sponsors also pay big money for DTM, in Germany it is a huge thing and is growing. Particiaption in the events is also inexpensive as the tour is not global and when it does become global you will understand why BMW established 6 teams (The six teams are operating independently). There is no BMW MOTORSPORT entry. 

  • minipuma


  • Bob Hayhurst


  • Geez one of the only good things to come from or about the Countryman and BMW goes and kills it.

  • We go into it in more detail in the upcoming episode of WhiteRoofRadio, but for now keep this in mind: BMW has a motorsports division of its own. Ending their relationship with ProDrive does not mean that they’re going to stop racing WRC. It just means that BMW will take over from here. Continuing the development in-house will be less expensive than paying Prodrive to do it. So the sky is not necessarily falling just yet.

    •  So, let Prodrive do all the hard development work to start with and then boot ’em and take over? Smooth.

      • Whatever. That’s what they were paid to do. Prodrive is a vendor, like any of the hundreds BMW uses every day. I’m sad to see them go, but if the relationship is over, that doesn’t make it shady. I’m sure everybody got paid. 

        • I’m sure everybody got paid as well, but it’s a shame to see BMW use their expertise for a year and then end the relationship. Prodrive seems to be THE rally expert in developing and running a championship caliber car. Is 1 year of development and a partial race schedule enough to have developed a championship caliber car? I guess we’ll all find out. I hope so, but it could turn out to be a big blunder.

          I can’t believe that BMW would be racing if the goal wasn’t to win a championship.

        • Anonymous

          BMW Motorsport supplies the engines- tweaked the drivetrain so really PRODrive setup the suspension? Seriously, there is not much else to do- the rules require the chassis to be built a certain way and safety structure a certain way. I am sure BMW would have just done the whole thing in house if they were not so involved with the new regulations and building 6 DTM cars to go along with everything else they do. 

          I have been to MOTORSPORT and seen the operation and it is unreal- they have mothballed much of the F1 equipment but still have it. The crew and all that is much smaller but they are still there working magic for customer projects and for the M3 GT, DTM, Z4 GT3 and WTCC cars.

          The only Rally expert is Loeb… nuff said

    • jeff

      you bring up a good point nathaniel, but i’m still skeptical.  sure BMW has proven itself in the motorsport world, but more often than not that’s on the racetrack.  rally seems like a totally different animal and i’d be hesitant to cut ties with a firm as experienced and lauded as Prodrive.

      and as scott mentions, it makes BMW look less than professional, especially if they’re terminating the contract early.

      • Anonymous

        Nah, I don’t think the big worry is ending ProDrive’s involvement with the Mini entry, so much as who will pick up ProDrive next to prep their cars. That’s who BMW has to worry about.

  • jwf

    Looking at all the rumours it does look like BMW are completely ending their WRC efforts. But as for now they are only rumours. 

  • Anonymous

    I question the return on investment WRC offers in all honesty. The cars are expensive, the tour goes around the globe and requires tons of travel expenses and import duties etc. There may look like a lot of people lined up along the roads- but how many really are there? I doubt there are as many at these events as there are at any other Motorsport event that is sanctioned. I also question how much influence rally has on people buying cars. Subaru seems to be doing just fine these days and Citroen isn’t selling any more cars even with Loeb winning 8 years in a row..

    Just pointing out the obvious, and while it would suck for MINI to not be racing as a WORKS team (privateers will be racing MINIs) it is not all that different than what BMW did a few years back when they pulled out of F1, and WTCC and a bunch of other events as works teams to just be the manufacturer. 

    • jeff

      I might be wrong, but I believe that there is regulation in the WRC that the manufacturer needs to run a pair of cars to qualify the privateers’ entries.

      DTM is cost effective because all you have to do is bus the cars and teams around Germany, but at the same time how many non-German fans are watching these races and invested in the championship?  Do Australians care about DTM?  Or Brazillians?  Or even other European countries?

      • Anonymous

        The 2012 DTM schedule at a glance 29th AprilHockenheimring Baden-Württemberg (D)6th MayLausitzring (D)20th MayBrands Hatch (GB)3rd JuneRed Bull Ring Spielberg (A)1st July    Norisring (D)14th / 15th JulyShow event Olympiastadion München (D)**19th AugustNürburgring (D)26th AugustCircuit Park Zandvoort (NL)16th SeptemberMotorsport Arena Oschersleben (D)30th SeptemberValencia (E)21st OctoberHockenheimring Baden-Württemberg (D)

        As you can see Germany is not the only place these races take place- hasn’t been that way for sometime. Considering that much of Europe watches DTM regularly yes it is a big deal. BMW left because of politics and they felt the cars had gotten to expensive and lost the connection to street cars. BMW doesn’t just race because it is what everyone else is doing it. 

        But if your saying the less than 5k units MINI sells in Brazil and Australia are worth flying cars, support staff and putting them all up for weeks is worth the investment- nope. BMW only sells 20k units in those markets and while Brazil is emerging WRC is not going to sell more cars to Brazilians; F1 and Le Mans will as it is much more glamourous.

        Peugeot recently pulled out of Le Mans, their home race and they and Audi have set the bar thanks to being so competitive over the last half dozen or so years. They reasoned they could spend the money elsewhere.

        If you ask me, the Countryman is the only MINI that really doesn’t need more support- it is selling itself. Maybe that money used for racing could be used elsewhere. BMW divesting from F1 paid for hybrids and BMWi, a Carbon fiber plant and a whole lot more…

        • jeff

          what i’m saying is that the WRC is open to many more countries.  Fine DTM has expanded slightly beyond the boarders of Germany, but the WRC is run worldwide, from New Zealand to Mexico.  There are races in Germany, France, Sweden, Portugal, and the UK; and that’s about 1/2 the schedule.  Australia and Brazil were just examples, but the WRC is truly global.

          and more importantly BMW winning DTM is going to sell exactly 0 MINIs.  Yes selling BMWs is more important than selling MINIs and sure winning will help them sell BMWs, but 6 cars seems excessive.  A better idea, in my opinion, would be to race 2 or 4 cars in DTM for the BMW brand and race a pair of countrymans (men?) in  the WRC to keep MINIs sporting credibility relevant.

          lets be honest, DTM cars are not the 3 series and WRC entries are not real Countrymans, entering and winning these championships does not sell more of a specific model, but gives each brand bragging rights over the others.

  • JonPD

    I am sure BMW Motorsport will be able to do a decent job with this. The base fact though is that Pro-Drive has a massive amount of experience with strong teams in WRC. BMW Motorsports also has some experiance but I don’t think its nearly a deep with this type of racing. Also we loose the last bits of MINI being a English car with it. It will be a English badged, German tuned, Austrian car. I actually wonder if BMW will bring this in house or if they will just support privateer teams.

    • Anonymous

      IF I were a betting man I would say that BMW and FIA discussed all this when they were “late to register” by being late to register they technically could not participate in the entire season as a “works” team (if I understand correct) but the could still offer support to customer teams if they participated in some events and that was all part of the plan to just support customers like they do in other FIA series (WTCC etc.) 

      Does it stink that this is happening, yes it does but at the end of the day life goes on. They pulled out of F1, and that was painful for many reasons- they spent a lot on using F1 as the center piece of the brand for a while (E60 M5 had a V10 based off F1 then F1 went V8 so the M3 became V8 etc.) to pull out. They haven’t used the WRC for any brand cache really- a few diehards will be upset for a few weeks but that is about it. Pulling out of F1 required an entire PR campaign.


  • Dr Obnxs

    I think the cost of the series is a red herring. The race venues weren’t a secret, so the cost for fielding teams shouldn’t have been a surprise. What’s for sure is that in some basic form, the plans for WRC have changed. At first, it was supposed to be a multi-year effort with the goal of increasing participation and success over several year, with the final goal of winning it all.

    But instead of increased participation in the second year, there is less participation. What’s going to happen to the teams that are running the ProDrive sourced cars? While we can all speculate what will happen, what has happened doesn’t bode well.. At best it’s a lost year for the program, at worst it’s the beginning of the end of the program.

  • Chris

    I think this story needs a correction pronto. The WRC entry has moved away from Prodrive, though their contract to supply customer cars and develop the R60 remains largely as it was.