14 Nisan 2011 Perşembe
MINI Officially Launches WRC Team, Unveils Countryman Racers
MINI's preparations for the brand's imminent return to the World Rally Championship have culminated with the official launch of the team less than a month ahead of its first WRC event, the Rally d'Italia Sardegna (May 5 - 8). At the company's plant in Oxford, England, the MINI WRC Team unveiled its two MINI John Cooper Works WRC cars, the driver/co-driver lineup and its plans for 2011.
Based on the production Countryman, the MINI WRC car was developed by rallying specialists at Prodrive together with BMW Motorsport. The latter is responsible for the 1.6-liter turbo engine, which was conceived for use in series complying with FIA Super 2000 regulations, including the World Touring Car Championship. Prodrive will actually run the MINI works team and will also supply customer cars to other teams, in WRC or S2000 guise.
MINI's goal in the debut season is to gain experience in order to be prepared to take on a full 2012 season. This year the team will enter only six events:
Rally Italy (May 5 - 8), Rally Finland (July 28 - 31), Rally Germany (August 18 - 21), Rally France (September 29 - October 2), Rally Spain (October 20 – 23) and Rally Great Britain (November 10 – 13).
The two cars will be driven by experienced drivers Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo, guided by co-drivers Paul Nagle and Carlos Del Barrio respectively. The MINI WRC Team's cars will sport a red, black and white livery, with both AWD racers featuring a checkered flag-inspired design on the sides.
“We have an experienced team, a talented driver pairing and, most importantly of all, a strong partnership with MINI. We are now eagerly looking forward to demonstrating the performance of the car on its debut in Sardinia in just a few weeks,” said David Richards, Prodrive CEO.
MINI's milestones in the WRC include the three Monte Carlo Rally wins of 1964, 1965 and 1967, with Paddy Hopkirk, Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen respectively, each behind the wheel of the classic Mini Cooper S.
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