Rumor of the week comes from Autosport magazine. After months of speculation, the magazine reports that MINI and Prodrive will announce a World Rally Championship program in the near future. The new car will be based on the MINI Countryman model and is being prepared at Prodrive’s Banbury base.
Testing of the new machine is expected to begin soon and it will use BMW’s 1.6 liter turbocharged engine.
“When we start testing on our rally car development programme, it will be intensive,” said technical David Lapworth for Autosport. “We still have a good timescale to work towards for testing and we’re happy with where we’re at.”
According to their sources, MINI will officially launch the car next year in Rome, before the May’s Rally D’Italia Sardegna, but the car is not the car is not expected to compete in any of the first four rounds of next year’s World Rally Championship.
For MINI, this will be the first factory backed MINI rally effort since 1960s. and the first time MINI has officially participated in a FIA sanctioned series ever.
Norwegian driver Mads Ostberg is being tipped to do some of the early development driving – and to take one of the factory seats in next year’s WRC program.