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MINI To Take The Countryman Rally Racing

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On: Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 11:45AM | By: John Welch


MINI To Take The Countryman Rally Racing

The WRC (The FIA World Rally Championship, if you prefer)  has seen its number of factory-sponsored competitors dwindle in the last few years. Hyundai, Peugeot, Mitsubishi, and even the mighty Subaru have all left the sport since 2007, leaving only Ford and Citroen to duke it out in the hills of Acropolis, the snows of Finland, the rains and gravel of Great Britain.

Like every struggling motorsport organization, the WRC decided to change its rules and attempt to attract more manufacturers through lower costs. Naturally aspirated engines are now strongly advised, and turbocharged engines cannot measure more than 1.6 liters. It will be difficult to push this size engine to the 300 or more reliable horsepower the old 2.0 units were making, but in a few years we should see the return of air restrictors as engineers find ever increasing gobs of power.

One of the manufacturers willing to take on the small bore turbo challenge is MINI, and they aren't taking their rally campaign lightly. Teaming up with Prodrive, the company is responsible for building many successful race cars, Subaru's championship winning WRC team included. Utilizing the nearly-new Coutryman model, MINI and parent company BMW plan to live up to the brand's already prestigious racing history. Their last international rally win coming at the 1967 Rally Monte Carlo; the team is anxious to get a car built and testing underway.

MINI will run a limited schedule in 2011, and look for a full campaign from 2012 on. Their deal with the FIA is for 3 to 4 years, and if successful they will commit to the WRC further.

Here we have a great little video featuring an interview of Alec Issigonis and some scenes depicting MINI Coopers in various rallies.
. . . and to demostrate what a serious team Prodrive is, here is a video of the team changing an Impreza gear box . . . in five minutes . . . duh-AM!

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)


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