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.