The car that will spearhead Mini's return to top-flight rallying has been revealed in Oxford

Mini has taken the covers off the definitive version of the car that will spearhead its return to top-flight rallying.

The BMW-owned brand unveiled its Countryman WRC - officially called the Mini John Cooper Works WRC - at its Oxford factory this morning. It has previously shown the more restricted S2000 version of the car, but used its UK base - not the site of the Austrian-built Countryman’s production line, ironically - to launch a six-event 2011 programme with the full-spec car, complete with new rear wing.

See pics from the Mini WRC launch

Now watch a short video of the Mini Countryman WRC in testing

“This project is a truly passionate opportunity,” said David Richards, boss of the Prodrive motorsport prepration firm that is responsible for Mini’s rallying activities. “Mini is a cult brand which left a lasting impression during its previous motorsport campaigns.”

The team’s drivers - ex-Citroën star Dani Sordo and Northern Irishman Kris Meeke - will contest events in Italy, Finland, Germany, France, Spain and Great Britain this season, ahead of a full campaign in 2012. They’re considered an attractive pairing - although neither has won a WRC round.

Meeke said, “To go into a season without aiming to win is a waste. Then we may as well not even enter and save an awful lot of effort. In our case, we need to find the right balance. We can’t win this year’s title but we still aim to prove how competitive we are.”

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