After a long absence, BMW is bringing MINI back into rally competition.Enlarge Photo
Rally Fans have been waiting for this day ever since MINI was revived by BMW. In the early to mid-sixties, the red and white Mini Cooper Ss dominated the rally scene. Their front-wheel-drive, rubber cone suspension and great power to weight ratio allowed them to conquer such iconic events like the Monte Carlo Rally several years running.
Now, for the first time since 2001, MINI has announced that the little car will come back to the rally stage to compete in the World Rally Championship (WRC.) However this time the car won’t be a Cooper, but the CUV Countryman.
The cars are not being developed by BMW; instead they are being tuned by the rally-gurus at Prodrive. Prodrive previously had tremendous success converting Subaru Legacies and Imprezzas into formidable rally competitors until reliability problems caused Subaru to pull out of WRC. Prodrive looks to get back in the game by partnering with MINI.
The MINI Countryman WRC car will comply with the Super2000 regulations made to reduce costs and make privateers as competitive with factory-backed teams. Thanks to these new regulations, cars have relatively short development times, so the MINI will start competing this fall. Power will come from a BMW Motorsports 1.6L turbocharged four. Other powertrain pieces will include a sequential gearbox and an AWD system. This makes it one of the few WRC cars available to consumers with both an optional turbocharger and AWD.
We hope that the MINI Countryman will give some needed factory competition into the WRC stage.