There was a fair bit of hullabaloo two years ago when Mini announced a return to the World Rally Championship for this season, but the road to making that happen has been as rocky as a gravel stage. It spent 2011 developing its JCW Countryman WRC challenger, changing its mind about how it wanted to work with Prodrive, dumped a driver due to budget issues, then registering its entry after the deadline had passed in a ploy that might or might not have been a protest aimed at the WRC promoter.

Mini had stated that it wanted to win the whole championship in 2013, and spent 2011 doing six WRC rounds as development. As it stands for this year, the WRC Team Mini Portugal – paid for by Mini, run by ProDrive – scored 26 points in the first rally at Monte Carlo and has so far blanked the rest of the season. The relationship between Mini and ProDrive appeared to be an ever-contentious affair, at the end of this season, even the money will dry up along with what support there was.

Because it contested every race in the calendar, though, Mini says it has completed the FIA requirements for homologation of the JCW Countryman WRC; meaning that privateers can continue purchasing the car and run it in the WRC. BMW Motorsport is continuing development and parts supply of the 1.6-liter turbo engine, and a report in Autosport indicates that ProDrive will continue to run Minis in the series next year.

The press release below has more info on the whys and wherefores.
Show full PR text
MINI ceases works involvement in the WRC.

Munich, 12.10.2012 -- MINI will terminate its works involvement in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the end of the 2012 season. The company has made this decision after careful consideration.

Dr. Kay Segler, Senior Vice President MINI Business Coordination and Brand Management: "MINI will abandon its works involvement in the WRC at the end of the 2012 season. By the end of the season WRC Team MINI Portugal will have competed in every rally in 2012. As such, in accordance with FIA regulations, we will have achieved the WRC homologation for the MINI John Cooper Works. In doing so, we would have achieved the prerequisites to allow those interested to continue to run the car in the WRC on a customer rallying basis. BMW Motorsport will continue to further develop the 1.6-litre turbo engine in conjunction with Prodrive. In a very difficult commercial environment, MINI has played an active role in ensuring that friends of the MINI brand can continue to participate in motorsport. As such, the MINI family is retaining its presence on various international platforms and getting even closer to its customers. We would like to see the MINI John Cooper Works WRC continue to run competitively in WRC and other championships. We would like to thank Prodrive, WRC Team MINI Portugal and our partners for the good cooperation, and wish all drivers, teams and customers a successful future in rallying."

MINI Motorsport has secured the future of its customer teams, while Prodrive will still be able to run, optimise and sell vehicles in the future. BMW Motorsport will continue to develop the 1.6-litre turbo engine and provide Prodrive with parts.

From its rallying debut early in 2011, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC turned out to be a successful model: MINI drivers collected three podiums and many top-ten finishes at the wheel of this car. Arguably the biggest success was achieved by Dani Sordo (ES) in January 2012, when he finished second at the comeback of MINI at the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. With three wins in the Principality – back in 1964, 1965 and 1967 – the Mini laid the foundation for the unique reputation of the brand in rallying.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      Drakkon
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm a broken record on this topic. Until racing finds an industry to replace tobacco that is willing to sponsor just about all teams in the field, racing writ large will struggle.
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Because it contested every race in the calendar, though, Mini says it has completed the FIA requirements for homologation of the JCW Countryman WRC; meaning that privateers can continue purchasing the car and run it in the WRC." Ahh, that's why they did one year. Sounds like the plan all along.
      Pdexter
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is those which came first problems. I can't be bothered with WRC because the competition is dead. Now we have VW entering the series next season and we already have Mini leaving it after only one year. Before we have at least 4 manufacturer teams really going for it, WRC wont unfortunately be to it's former self.
      Street King
      • 2 Years Ago
      One of 2 reasons why, #1 it was a marketing experiment, #2 Eurozone is gonna get reeeeeeal bad and they are tightening the hatches now for a financial crisis.
      drewpy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Weak.
      Stuka
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am not really surprised. They only participated in a handful of races, and didn't do much in the ones that did participate in. Which admittedly the first few years for a rally team are the hardest. As for there only being Ford left, Hyundai has a Veloster Rally team in GRC which from what I have heard will be moving to WRC. Citroen has other cars besides the one Loeb drives. If VW does enter (Audi?), that would give four makes, which would be decent. Although nothing like it was 20 years ago.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Vitor Santos
        • 2 Years Ago
        VW will enter next year, Hyundai also presented the i20 WRC, though it isn't confirmed they will return to the championship, and Prodrive will keep improving the Countryman, without the support of Mini Motorsport. What they did with Armindo Araujo was a shame.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Vitor Santos
          [blocked]
          Lab Rat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Vitor Santos
          Since VW *is* Audi...
      Lachmund
      • 2 Years Ago
      FAIL
      Jeeho
      • 2 Years Ago
      mini with mini ball to do WRC
      sneed4speedchris
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hope to see some running in the US with privateers, maybe with some www.sneed4speed.com parts on them this time.
      Lab Rat
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mini can't motor so well...
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