Northern Irish rally driver Kris Meeke

Northern Irish rally driver Kris Meeke

Following last week’s report that MINI had missed the deadline for filing paperwork necessary to compete in the 2012 World Rally Championship, news coming out today claims the factory-backed team has dropped its star driver, Irishman Kris Meeke, due to budgetary constraints.

Despite Meeke being just one year into his three year contract with MINI WRC, it’s believed that the Prodrive-run team has overshot its budget for the 2012 season and was thus forced to drop him and his co-driver Paul Nagle.

News of the changes have made their way to Twitter though an official confirmation is yet to be released by neither MINI nor Prodrive.

Meeke’s empty seat in the MINI Countryman rally car is set to be auctioned off to whichever driver can bring in the most sponsorship dollars, reports Autocar. The new driver will join former Citroen WRC driver Dani Sordo who has been retained by the British team and will be racing at next month’s Monte Carlo Rally. Meeke, meanwhile, may stay on as a test driver due to contractual agreements.

While it’s unclear how a factory-backed team like MINI WRC may be short on cash, the fact that MINI’s parent company BMW is spending up big for its return to DTM may go some way towards explaining it.