JCW range

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.”

MINI Countryman

>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.

You can read the rest here.

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.