• Jul 27th 2010 at 9:31AM
  • 24
2011 Mini Countryman WRC – Click above to enlarge

Were it not for the efforts of John Cooper and drivers like Paddy Hopkirk on the European rally stages of the 1960s, the Mini brand probably wouldn't have the beloved reputation that it does today – in fact, it's possible it would never be around today at all. BMW has confirmed a longstanding rumor with today's announcement that Mini is heading back to international rallying with the Countryman WRC beginning in 2011.

The Countryman WRC is being developed by long-time Subaru partner Prodrive for the new Super2000 regulations and will run in select World Rally Championship rounds in 2011 before taking on the full 2012 season and beyond. The rally special will have a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four with all-wheel-drive. Prodrive started work on the project early last year and testing will start this Fall.

[Source: BMW]
Show full PR text
MINI set to join World Rally Championship from 2011.

* 27.07.2010
* Press Release

Munich. MINI is making a comeback on the international rally circuit. From 2011, the brand will compete at selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and will go on to contest the entire season from 2012 onwards. This involvement is planned for several years.

The car charged with this task is the MINI Countryman WRC, which is being developed by Prodrive, in close cooperation with MINI, and is based on the production model. The powerful heart of the racing car is a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder turbo-charged engine from BMW Motorsport. The car complies with the new Super2000 regulations put in place by the International Automobile Federation (FIA), which stipulate the use of turbo engines with 1,600 cc displacement and four-wheel drive combined with an increased emphasis on road relevant technologies. The result is a significant 25 per cent reduction in overall costs. The first test drive for the MINI Countryman WRC, which will also be available to customer teams, is planned for autumn 2010.

This decision sees MINI continue its success story in the world of rallying. In the 1960s, the MINI Cooper S caused a sensation with victories at the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. The company also tasted success on many occasions in the European Rally Championship. Having already demonstrated the sporty character of its models in many countries in the MINI CHALLENGE, the brand is now taking its presence in motorsport to a new level with the commitment to the WRC.

Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing, says: "I am delighted MINI will be represented on one of the most popular stages in international motorsport. The success enjoyed on the rally circuit has made a vital contribution to the image of the brand. MINI customers have always shown great interest in motorsport. I am convinced we will add a few more chapters to our success story in rallying. The MINI Countryman provides an excellent basis, from which to create a competitive racing car for the world championship. In Prodrive, we have a strong and experienced partner. We will work hard together over the coming months to ensure we get the project on track right from the word go."

"This is a very exciting new motorsport programme," said Prodrive Chairman, David Richards. "During the 1960s MINI captured the imagination of the world when the tiny car took on the might of V8 powered Fords and won what was then one of the toughest motorsport events, the 4000km Monte Carlo rally. I believe our new MINI will become a firm favourite of the latest generation of rally fans, just as it is adored by its millions of owners across the world. We already have a significant number of confirmed customer orders for the new MINI rally car with the first deliveries scheduled for the start of the 2011 season."

Prodrive has been working on developing the MINI Countryman WRC since early 2009. The company was formed in 1984 by Richards, who won the World Rally Championship as co-driver to Ari Vatanen (FI) three years earlier. Based in Banbury (GB), Prodrive has developed into a leading independent company in the motorsport and automobile sector under Richards' guidance, and today employs over 500 staff. Prodrive's many successes currently include six overall victories in the World Rally Championship, five titles in the British Touring Car Championship and three class victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours (FR).

BMW was present when the World Rally Championship made its debut back in 1973. Achim Warmbold (DE) and Jean Todt (FR) tasted victory in their BMW 2002 at the Alpenfahrt Rally in Austria. However, MINI's tradition in this discipline stretches back even further: Pat Moss (GB) clinched the first victory with the MINI 850 at the 1959 Mini Miglia National Rally. MINI ultimately enjoyed its finest hours at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967: the MINI Cooper S celebrated three overall victories at the most iconic rallying event in the world. Paddy Hopkirk (IR, 1964), Timo Mäkinen (FI, 1965) and Rauno Aaltonen (FI, 1967) joined the list of winners at this prestigious event. In 1965, "Rally Professor" Aaltonen also won the European Rally Championship. Tony Ambrose (GB) and Mäkinen finished second and third to round off an excellent overall result for the MINI Cooper S. In addition, MINI drivers also enjoyed many individual wins at renowned rallies throughout Europe. The last BMW World Rally Championship victory was achieved in 1987 in Corsica by Bernard Béguin (FR) driving a BMW M3 which was built and run by Prodrive.

From 2011, over 40 years down the line, the MINI Countryman WRC will be charged with adding further chapters to this success story. It bridges the gap between the classic MINI concept and a contemporary Sports Activity Vehicle. The brand's first model to feature four doors and a wide-opening tailgate, it offers more space – which can be used in a wide variety of ways – to go with its raised seating position and optimised ride comfort. Plus, the "go-kart" feeling for which MINI is a byword has been preserved and takes on a new dimension with the optional MINI ALL4 all-wheel-drive system. The MINI Countryman expresses the defining virtues of the brand in terms of design, premium quality, handling, efficiency and the scope for customisation – and does so in an absorbingly individual way.

The next step down from the racing version is the MINI Cooper S Countryman. With its twin-scroll turbocharger and direct injection now complemented by fully variable valve management, the 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine in the range-topping model offers by far the best balance between output and fuel consumption in its displacement class. The engine generates an impressive 135 kW/184 bhp and allows the MINI Cooper S Countryman to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds. Furthermore, the MINIMALISM concept sees wide-ranging technology designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions – such as Brake Energy Regeneration, the Auto Start/Stop function, Shift Point Display and the need-based operation of ancillary components – fitted as standard and in model-specific combinations.

The MINI Cooper S Countryman and MINI Cooper D Countryman can be ordered as an option with MINI ALL4 permanent all-wheel drive. Here, an electromagnetic centre differential positioned directly on the final drive varies the distribution of power seamlessly between the front and rear axles. In normal driving conditions up to 50 per cent of the drive is sent to the rear wheels, in extreme situations as much as 100 per cent. The result is a new, traction-led expression of the agile handling for which MINI is famed.


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  • 24 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah, looks just like the original Mini! Alright, even if it has almost nothing in connection with the original, entering WRC and teaming with Prodrive is starting to earn some kudos points in my opinion (it'll need a lot more though after that stupid Porsche thing). Looks great here, but illustrations usually look pretty good anyways. I'll wait for pictures before I make my final opinion.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A JCW version is in the works JCW = John Cooper works which could have a hi-po 1.6T with AWD and agressive styling.
      jamean631
      • 5 Years Ago
      it way too big n wat has happened to Suzuki n Subaru will happen to mini they did not adapt to a optimal platform the best rally cars r those with same wheel base n a hatches which the mini not the country man is
        • 5 Years Ago
        @jamean631
        I gotta say to people who keep screaming that it's too big, just take a look at the stats. It's roughly the same length as the new Fiesta, and a little bit shorter than a Honda Fit. Just because it's awd does not mean it's an SUV. Somehow the Fiesta and the Fit are small cars, but this Countryman is a huuuge SUV! This thing looks good in the sketch, but unfortunately, as other people have pointed out, a production version would probably be crazy expensive, well over 40k.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @jamean631
        Rreading this gave me a headache. It's called puncuations and grammar, please learn to use it; it's elementary...
        • 5 Years Ago
        @jamean631
        I believe what our friend jamean631 is trying to say is,

        "Mitsu & Suba mit wit rallie fo wida then mine platform mak less go en narow dert rods dey also ned ngn drive en bak for better wate distrebshon"



        Sorry, I had to. Go ahead and make fun of my lack of scoop knowledge. Being American, I know nothing about rally racing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think this is great...I was getting tired of only seeing two major manufacturers be competitive in the series.

      On the topic of WRC, can you guys PLEASE cover Neste Oil Rally Finland this coming weekend? I'd love to see you pick this series up and cover it like Indy and F1 on here...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Best looking Countryman I've yet seen.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I want to buy this. I will forgo my future Cayman S purchase if I could have this car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Does anyone else think this looks like a Micro-machine?... Man I miss those things lol.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ha! Yeah! I remember those! XD
      • 5 Years Ago
      Actually looks really good, Although if BMW did make a WRC saleable version it would end up being more expensive and slower than an STI or Evo so probably not much of a point in doing so. Looks really cool though.
      • 5 Years Ago
      DO WANT!

      I would buy a Mini (and have been collecting Mini advertising since it first started in the states in the hopes that one day I would), but we have a family cabin down a nasty dirt road. And I need room for kids and crap that I carry to the cabin. Yet, I don't want a honking truck or a boring-arse SUV that I can't get in a manual. So...

      One off-road capable Mini for me, please. I've been waiting!
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's with the roof scoop? No AC so they need cabin ventilation? Is it connected to a snorkel? Somehow, I don't see this car going that deep.
        • 5 Years Ago
        yes it is indeed for cabin ventilation.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks. Should have done my homework. A quick google showed me that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mimi - make a street version of this and I will forgive you for making the Countryman.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Just drive - I've got a pet theory about why MINI went the "SUV" route (though the Countryman strikes me more along the lines of an XC70/Outback/Allroad, but whatever):

        It's all about perception. MINI trades on being small (among other things), and if they'd come out with a 4-door hatch instead of the Countryman, people would have complained about how it was just as big as a GTI and what's the point of MINI being called MINI if they're cars are the same size as the competition and on and on. The Countryman, meanwhile, is significantly smaller than its compact crossover competition, letting MINI have its cake and eat it too by creating a slightly larger vehicle it needs to expand its appeal while maintaining the "small vs. the competition" thing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good thing you have SUV in quotes... because if was an SUV it would be the darned smallest one.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Alex, OK, but they didn't really have to make an "SUV" to run in the WRC did they?

        This one looked pretty good:
        http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3663316&id=168020983814
        • 5 Years Ago
        Doogs - I think you're right about the positioning thing. Wish they could have pushed it as this 4-door-rally-car-thingy from the start though.

        And they should have made it faster too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        x2

        I might also forgive the Clubman, if it was a real version, with the same 1.6L engine, not just a sticker package.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Running it in the WRC alone makes a valid case for Mini making the countryman in the first place. Also, you will be able to purchase a Countryman with the 1.6 turbo and all wheel drive. I'm sure Prodive will be more than happy to sell you aftermarket parts to bring your Countryman in line with the Countryman WRC and still remain DOT compliant.
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