Dr. Mario Theissen must be quite happy these days. His retirement is on the horizon this summer and under his last few months of reign over BMW Motorsport, they’ve flourished in every series in which they compete. BMW Team RLL pulled off an impressive 1-2 finish in GT at the 12 Hours of Sebring, BMW Team Schnitzer picked up another 1-2 less than a week ago at the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nurburgring.
If that wasn’t enough to please Herr Theissen then surely the inaugural victory of a BMW product in the WRC team via the John Cooper Works MINI Countryman S2000 at the Rally dell’Adriatico pleased the German . The team, run by Grifone and using the prodrive-built MINI Countryman, powerslid it’s way across the Adriatic coastline of Italy to a 12 second lead over the second place Skoda Fabia S2000 with Andrea Navarra as pilot and co-driver Simona Fedeli. The Grifone team is a privateer entry in the WRC and not to be confused with the factory-supported team debuting at a Rally Italy later this year.
This is an incredible result considering that the Countryman, for 2011, is only a test car of sorts before BMW Motorsport commit to the full 2012 season. In only the third event, a MINI has won – proof that when the official MINI WRC team kicks off their first race in May in Sardinia for the Rally Italy that expectations a deservedly high. This is the first time in nearly 30 years that BMW has participated in competitive rally events. Look for the official unveiling of the official MINI Countryman rally car early next week in the United Kingdom.