Prodrive will no longer be the focus of Mini's World Rally Championship assault

Prodrive will no longer run Mini’s works World Rally Championship effort after parent company BMW reshuffled its rallying assault on Monday.

Although the Prodrive-led Mini World Rally Team will continue to operate in the WRC, the reorganisation means that a different squad, WRC Team Mini Portugal, will now be the main focus of BMW’s efforts.

Prodrive has prepared and run the Mini John Cooper Works WRC machines since the programme began last year. Although the Mini-Prodrive alliance enjoyed a strong start to the current WRC season, with Dani Sordo achieving second place in the Monte Carlo Rally, the two parties have been at loggerheads over several aspects of the programme, including funding.

Before the start of the year, Prodrive was forced to sideline Sordo’s team-mate Kris Meeke so that it could make room for paying drivers to fill the second car on events.

Last week the sport's governing body, the FIA, accepted BMW’s request to enter a new two-car manufacturer team called WRC Team Mini Portugal into the WRC.

WRC Team Mini Portugal – run by Motorsport Italia – will run a brace of John Cooper Works WRCs driven by Portugal’s Armindo Araújo/Miguel Ramalho and Brazil’s Paulo Nobre/Edu Paula on the remaining 12 WRC events.

As a consequence of taking more control of the project, the BMW Group will carry out further homologation work for the Mini John Cooper Works WRC that will enable the car to be used in top-level rallying until the end of 2018.

Prodrive will carry on building and running privateer Minis in the WRC and other championships, and will continue to work with the BMW Group on the further development of the car. The Mini World Rally Team, run by Prodrive, will continue as a works-supported privateer outfit.

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Comments
7

6 February 2012

Let me get this right in my head:

Mini,an English brand that is now German, will be entered as WRC Team Mini Portugal and then run by Motorsport Italia....?? Certainly puts a new take on it being a WORLD Rally Car....

Its a huge knock for Prodrive though, it could also be a mistake to have 2 sets of engineering teams develop the car, I cant see there being too much intel being shared between the two. Then BMW will probably want to stick their nose in too...

6 February 2012

BMW have made a big mistake, there was a lot of support from within the UK, then they dropped Kris Meeke and then this.

  • If you want to know about a car, read a forum dedicated to it; that's a real 'long term test' . No manufacturer's warranty, no fleet managers servicing deals, no journalist's name to oil the wheels...

6 February 2012

I cannot understand this move. The Mini won the Dakar albeit in a German developed car by X-Raid and the Mini rally car is quick. They are expanding the brand and have produced a new, big, 4WD car that is a bit foreign to the brand. They should be putting the marketing pedal down, including reliving the N Ireland connection of Paddy Hopkirk and Chris Meeke. Puzzling.

7 February 2012

This doesn't surprise me and has shades of BMW's Formula 1 programme, where they first started off as an engine supplier for Williams, which effectively became a BMW works team, but then decided that Williams weren't doing a good enough job and bought out Sauber instead to create a new works team. With virtually no success as a result.

7 February 2012

...or as they say in Portugal: Oh bom. Ainda, quem importa-se?

8 February 2012

Or for those of you who don't speak Portugese, he means in polite English " Oh come on really, who gives a damn!" Which is probably true. At the end of the day, we still want the Mini to win no matter who prepares it. It's all about results.

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