Six outings in the recently completed 2011 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) were enough to convince AUTOSPORT readers of the class possessed by the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. The majority were agreed: no car proved itself more at the highest level of rallying in 2011 than that of Dani Sordo, Kris Meeke and the MINI WRC Team.

Over 1000 guests at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel for the motorsport equivalent of the Oscars saw double World Champion Carlos Sainz present the coveted prize to Dr. Kay Segler, head of MINI Brand Management, and MINI WRC Team Principal David Richards. This is the first time the title has been awarded to any manufacturer other than Citroen since 2007.

“Wherever MINI has competed this year, it has seemed like all the fans have been cheering us on,” said Dr. Segler. “It is, therefore, fitting that it is the fans and readers of AUTOSPORT that have voted the MINI WRC as the Rally Car of the Year.”

David Richards: “This award caps what has been a truly memorable debut year for MINI in the World Rally Championship. This award is a testament to the dedication of the whole team behind the project in Banbury and the commitment of BMW and MINI who have fully supported the programme.”

Following the huge success enjoyed on the international rally scene in the 1960s, the MINI brand celebrated its return to the World Rally Championship at this year’s Rally Italy. Dani Sordo twice steered the number 37 MINI John Cooper Works WRC to a podium finish. The MINI WRC Team also won seven special stages.

As well as the two MINI works cars, up to four private MINI cars were also in action in the 2011 WRC. By the end of 2011, 15 MINI WRC cars will have been delivered to customers and in 2012 it’s anticipated that there will be as many as 80 car starts for customer teams in the WRC.

[Source: MINI ]