Prodrive will run Mini's forthcoming Crossover 4x4 in the World Rally Championship, according to reports.
Although there has been no official confirmation of the deal, Prodrive technical director David Lapworth has admitted that the team has a deal to run cars for a manufacturer new to the WRC - and that it will be increasingly difficult to keep the identity of the cars secret in the coming months.
The launch of the Mini Crossover is currently scheduled for next March's Geneva motor show, although it has been postponed twice. Autosport magazine is now reporting that the World Rally Championship version of the car would then be launched at September's Paris motor show.
Prodrive, which prepared the iconic Subaru rally cars that took Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg to world titles, has been working on a theoretical new-generation World Rally Car for much of this year, developing the parts required without actually working on a base model.
Lapworth said, "Right now there is nothing to say and I don't think there will be anything to say until the spring. This is not an official statement from me, it's just the way things look.
"That said, it's going to be very difficult to keep this thing under wraps. Very soon we will have to start involving more and more people: the FIA, a lot more suppliers and things like that. Once we do that, more is bound to come out.
"It's possible a holding statement might be made then. It’s going to be hard to keep it a secret."
When asked if Prodrive had a roadgoing version of the car it intends to run at its Banbury HQ yet, Lapworth replied, "That would be difficult, the car doesn’t exist yet."
This would tie in with the team developing the Mini, as the final production specification hasn't been set yet.
It's anticipated that if Mini entered the WRC, it would contest selected events in 2011 before launching a full championship assault in 2012.