Races are never won on the opening lap, although they certainly can be lost on lap one. As MINI is finding out, sometimes entire seasons can be lost, too, even before the green flag flies for the first race of a new season.

According to a report by Autosport, MINI failed to file the application paperwork necessary to compete in the 2012 WRC season, by yesterday’s published deadline. It’s believed that this was an oversight and not a deliberate move to withdraw from 2012 WRC competition, as the Prodrive-built MINI John Cooper Works WRC cars took podium finishes in Germany and France during their inaugural season.

That feat would be impressive enough for any team campaigning a brand new car over a full season, but the fact that the MINI WRC Team earned two podiums in just six races is astonishing. For any constructor, the first season is about development, not about winning races.

Although the entry date has come and gone, MINI (and parent BMW) are pressuring the FIA to extend the deadline to accommodate MINI. There’s reason to believe that the FIA will bend on this, since it wants more manufacturers involved in the sport.

Even unnamed “sources in Germany” remain confident that MINI will compete in the 2012 WRC season. Autosport quotes someone close to the situation as saying, “There are a few things to talk about and time has beaten us to the deadline, but the cars will be in Monte Carlo - we couldn’t miss the MINI’s return to that rally.”