“In the 1960s Mini dominated the European rally scene. I could name not only three Monte Carlo Rally victories, but also wins in Finland’s Rally of 1000 Lakes. With this WRC programme MINI returns to its roots as it focuses on the present.” – Dr. Wolfgang Armbrecht, Senior Vice President Brand Management MINI
Rumors of MINI’s long-awaited return to the World Rally Championships have been making their way through motorsport circles over the past few months. There has been a great deal of speculation surrounding the details of the team, crew, vehicle and event dates. MINI Motorsport recently released a comprehensive, 27-page press release answering all questions in great detail.
The MINI WRC Team will be competing in six FIA WRC events in 2011, the first being “Rally Italia” in Sardinia, Italy on May 5th. From there the MINI team will be traveling to Finland, Germany, France, Spain and finishing at home in Great Britain. Specific dates are listed below.*
MINI’s decision to enter in only a select number of events in 2011 stems from a commitment to perfecting their automobile and allowing their drivers to become acclimated to the vehicle. ”Anyone wanting to be successful in a World Championship must first gain experience and put in a lot of hard work. We will do that together with our partner Prodrive. [Prodrive] is very familiar with the World Rally Championship, so we can start at a very high level. Several rallies are planned for this year. In 2012 we will compete for the full season,” said Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management, Sales and Marketing BMW Group.
Prodrive, one of the world’s largest and most successful motorsport and automotive technology businesses has partnered with MINI to assist in the team’s development and lend years of motorsport expertise. Those familiar with the FIA WRC Championship remember Prodrive's role in bringing Subaru’s World Rally Team to international prominence. With a resume that boasts six World Rally Championship titles; five British Touring Car Championships; three GT1 titles at Le Mans and the Le Mans Series title in 2009, Prodrive augments MINI's winning pedigree.
At the helm of the MINI WRC Countryman vehicles sit Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo. Kris Meeke (Great Britain) is a former mentee of legendary rally champion Colin McRae, and has a history of success driving a variety of vehicles in rally competition. Be it Citroen, Subaru, Opel, Ford or Peugot, Meeke has proven to be a versatile driver regularly posting competitive times.
Meeke's partner Dani Sordo (Spain) also has an impressive track record with 29 podium finishes and 102 special stage wins. Unlike Meeke, much of Dani’s experience has come behind the wheel of Citroen vehicles, however his decorated history suggests he will make a strong impact for the MINI team. “Driving skill, technical understanding and the will to win were the characteristics upon which we particularly concentrated. In Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo we know these requirements have been met 100 per cent,” noted Dr Wolfgang Armbrecht, Senior Vice President Brand Management MINI, and motorsport enthusiast.
Despite an abbreviated 2011 “trial” season, MINI will make significant gains in developing brand-awareness by modifying their production Countryman model into a rally-ready competitor. According to Ian Robertson, melding MINI with motorsport was a natural fit; “MINI is the epitome of excitement for millions of fans around the world and thrills them with its energy. This is precisely what we are able to authentically and sustainably represent through our motorsport involvement in the World Rally Championship.”
5-8 May 2011 Rally Italia*
28-31 July 2011 Rally Finland*
18-21 August 2011 Rally Germany*
29 September-2 October 2011 Rally France*
20-23 October 2011 Rally Spain*
10-13 November 2011 Rally Great Britain*
For more information, visit www.minimotorsport.com
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