Rumors have been circulating for months that Mini is preparing an upcoming assault on the World Rally Championship. But since they surfaced, little else has been said. The apparent reason for that delay, as emerging reports indicate, is due to the postponement of the car on which it is to be based.
Following the departure of BMW from Formula One, the German auto group hardly has any involvement in any major form of motorsport, foreshadowing its arrival on the rally scene. While previous reports didn't delve into the question of whether Mini would mount the campaign itself or solicit outside help, the latest word is that legendary motorsport contractors Prodrive – who've been without a manufacturer partner since Subaru withdrew from rallying – is already working on a rally-spec Mini. But rather than use one of the existing models as its basis, they're reportedly waiting for the arrival of the new Countryman crossover.
That model, however, has been delayed, with pre-production debut pushed back from the Detroit Auto Show in January possibly until Geneva in March. Given the setback, Prodrive is reportedly working on the parts it can without laying hands on the vehicle on which they'll be installed. Sources now suggest that the WRC-sped Mini Countryman will make its debut next fall at the Paris Motor Show in September.