Over 200 journalists and 30 cameramen squeezed into the T-building at Mini’s Oxford site this morning to see the first Mini works rally team for over 40 years formally launched to the press and public.

Before the Prodrive-engineered ‘Mini John Cooper Works WRC’ car was brought on stage, we were treated to an appearance by Paddy Hopkirk and Rauno Aaltonen in a period 1965 Mini Cooper rally team.

It’s tempting to think that the general public and potential Mini buyers would hardly even register this part of Mini history. Tempting but, judging by the press turn-out from across Europe, wrong.

Images of the Mini rally cars of the 1960s, marked out by the iconic bank of spotlights, are probably still very familiar to people - like me - who were born after the height of Mini’s rallying success.

If nothing else, endless re-runs of ‘The Italian Job’ ensures that the classic Mini rally car is a live part of the country’s wider cultural heritage. And the importance of those Mini rally car images remain a big consideration for BMW.

Dirk Holweg, BMW Motorsport representative on the WRC project said that this new car would "create the pictures" for today’s all-important social media presence.