According to rallybuzz.com BMW representatives met with Prodrive boss David Richards at the Rally Sweden last weekend to talk WRC. On the agenda was an update on the MINI Countryman WRC project that has been ongoing for some months as we’ve previously reported. The rally car is expected to undergo initial testing this summer with it’s brand new 1.6L turbo engine. It’s unclear how much (if any) similarities there are with the production engine other than the displacement.
In all Prodrive met with BMW and WRC as the weekend served as both a touch-base and a fact finding mission. Reportedly the rally car is expected to make a surprise debut at the Geneva motor show along side the production Countryman.
At this point there are no official announcements but the car has already been linked to Norwegian rally protege Mads Ostberg.
The development of the car was made possible by BMW’s exit from F1 and increased focus on production based series such as WRC, ALMS and the WTCC. It was also made possible by the WRC’s new engine rules which focus on production based 1.6L turbos. All this gives the upcoming Countryman rally car a tangible link to the production variant (especially the rumored fire-breathing JCW version).
In all the 2012 WRC season is shaping up to be a glorious return for MINI into a sport that has a great deal of historical significance for the brand.
Look for more news in the coming weeks as the Geneva Motor Show is scheduled for early March.