David Richards wants to follow up McRae and Burns with another rally champ

Mini's rally partner Prodrive wants the chance to a run a British driver at the heart of the firm's new Countryman WRC programme.

Prodrive chairman David Richards, who helped to bring Subaru to rallying and then made Colin McRae and Richard Burns world rally champions in the Japanese firm's cars, has told Autocar that he would love to give another Briton a chance of the sport's top prize.

Read more on Mini's return to rallying

"The driver choice will be down to Mini and ourselves," said Richards. "Mini doesn't really seem to have a preference on driver choice or where they're from, but I've always had a patriotic streak in me and it's well documented that Prodrive has had success with British drivers before. It'd certainly have appeal if we were to take a third British driver to a world title, and in a British car."

Britain has two obvious candidates for the drive: reigning Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Kris Meeke and Skoda UK IRC driver Guy Wilks. Meeke is likely to be the favoured option of the two; he is a Northern Irishman, like Mini legend Paddy Hopkirk, and his technical and development skills are said to be highly rated. He has already been used by Citroen to test the forthcoming DS3 WRC.

RIchards also said the deal marked the end of a "strange period" for Prodrive. "When you've got a firm that's as steeped in the World Rally Championship as we are, and then you end up spending two years away, it does feel like a strange period," he said. "But to come back with a brand like Mini is terrific. This isn't some lame, half-hearted effort; it's an absolutely full-blooded campaign."

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Citroen C11.2 Puretech 82 Furio
    First Drive
    29 September 2016
    Citroën's city car gets a new sporty-looking trim level, adding visual adornments, but no premium for the 1.2-litre Puretech triple we're driving
  • Mercedes C350e Sport
    First Drive
    28 September 2016
    Petrol-electric C-Class is a surprisingly well-priced alternative to a diesel but not the greatest example of the new ‘PHEV’ breed
  • Car review
    23 September 2016
    Aston kicks off its ‘second century plan’ with an all-new turbo V12 grand tourer
  • Ford Ka+ 1.2 Ti-VCT 85
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    A rounded, refined and well-sorted bargain supermini – once you’re used to the confusing role redefinition imposed on the once-cheeky Ka
  •  Maserati Ghibli Diesel
    First Drive
    22 September 2016
    Maserati releases another range of updates for its range best seller, the Ghibli. We've driven the diesel version, but there's little improvement on before