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MINI goes rallying

MINI has confirmed that it will enter the World Rally Championship in the new Countryman.

The rumour has been about for a while, and now MINI has confirmed that it will indeed contest the 2011 World Rally Championship.

MINI's rally car will be based on the Countryman and its development has been undertaken by Prodrive.

Initially MINI will only race a handful of 'selected rounds' during the 2011 season, before competing fully from 2012. It plans 'involvement [in the WRC] for several years'.

The car conforms to the FIA's Super 2000 rules, so it uses the 1.6-litre turbo engine from the production Cooper S Countryman. It will be more powerful than the standard 183hp unit, and the car lighter, though MINI hasn't released any figures as yet.

The rally car will be offered to private teams too, and Prodrive says it has already received some firm expressions of interest. The company has had the Countryman in development since early 2009.

The four-wheel drive car is the first MINI WRC racer of the BMW era, and the company hopes it will emulate the success of the original Mini's 1960s rallying heyday.

Prodrive chairman Dave Richards said: "During the 1960s Mini captured the imagination of the world when the tiny car took on the might of V8 powered Fords and won what was then one of the toughest motorsport events, the 4,000km Monte Carlo rally.

"I believe our new MINI will become a firm favourite of the latest generation of rally fans, just as it is adored by its millions of owners across the world."

Published on July 28, 2010
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