Mini set for a huge return to WRC

Dinesh

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Dinesh

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Oct 13, 2006
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News in the grapevines are singing the tunes of a return to the World Rally Championship for Mini together with Prodrive and an announcement is expected this week, if the sources at Autosports are to be believed.

The 1.6-liter turbocharged BMW lump that will propel Mini’s first ever rally car, to be based on the Countryman, has just arrived at Prodrive’s Banbury base to be installed in the chassis that has been in preparations for the last few months.

Once completed, the usual battery of testing will commence and according to technical director David Lapworth, once the ball gets rolling it won’t stop for a while.

“When we start testing on our rally car development programme, it will be intensive. We still have a good timescale to work towards for testing and we're happy with where we're at,” he said.

However, don’t be expecting to catch recreations of the Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk piloted Mini through the stages of the Monte Carlo Rally just yet as the car isn’t expected to compete in any of the first four rounds of next year’s World Rally Championship. Again, rumours indicate a launch in Rome, just ahead of the Rally d'Italia-Sardegna in May next season.

Now considering that news of Mini’s return to rallying was broken in August last year, Prodrive are nonetheless still tightlipped about any kind of working partnership with BMW or Mini.

Norwegian Mads Ostberg is expected to be behind the wheel for the early stages of development and possibly carry on into a driver’s slot for next year’s programme. Ostberg has long been a customer of Prodrive and is expected to run another Mini-based team in the World Rally Championship besides driving under the Mini banner.

source: Autosport