There have been plenty of rumours in the motorsport world that BMW will build a WRC version of the new Countryman.

However, despite numerous sources insisting that the deal was done and cars will be prepared by Prodrive in the UK, nothing concrete has been confirmed.

Mini Countryman first drive review

However, I can’t help thinking that BMW was offering a very heavy hint yesterday when it rolled out no less a man than Rauno Aaltonen at the Mini Countryman technical presentation.

Aaltonen is a pretty exceptional sportsman, starting out on speed boats and winning big on motorcycles before switching to rallying with great success.

The key point here, though, is the fact he joined the BMC rally team in 1962 driving Mini Coopers. And that he won the Monte Carlo rally in 1967 in the Mini.

It’s true to say that Aaltonen has been with BMW’s Driver Training for decades. But the fact he was rolled out to drive with us in the Countryman unveil speaks volumes.

I had a few laps with Aaltonen in the passenger seat, and he was keen to demonstrate the Countryman ALL4’s extraordinary electronic counter measure, which will virtually keep the car on the road no matter how poor the driver.