MINI abandons WRC, Prodrive to carry on

// Posted in MINI, WRC

Chris Atkinson, WRC Team MINI Portugal, 2012 Rallye Deutschland

MINI has announced it will abandon its factory support for WRC Team MINI Portugal at the end of the current season. That means Australia’s Chris Atkinson , contracted only for the final five races of the 2012 season, will enter another WRC off-season in limbo.

BMW Motorsport has left the explanation to Dr Kay Segler, Senior Vice President MINI Business Coordination and Brand Management: “MINI will abandon its works involvement in the WRC at the end of the 2012 season. By the end of the season WRC Team MINI Portugal will have competed in every rally in 2012. As such, in accordance with FIA regulations, we will have achieved the WRC homologation for the MINI John Cooper Works.

“In doing so, we would have achieved the prerequisites to allow those interested to continue to run the car in the WRC on a customer rallying basis. BMW Motorsport will continue to further develop the 1.6-litre turbo engine in conjunction with Prodrive.”

Thankfully, then, Prodrive will continue to carry the MINI flag until at least 2018, as outlined in an official team statement: “Prodrive’s existing long term contract with MINI remains unchanged. This ensures the sales, support and development of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC and S2000 cars, as well as the supply of engines and parts from BMW Motorsport for use by all teams in the WRC, regional and national rallies throughout the full homologation period of the car to 2018.”

For their part, Motorsport Italia (aka WRC Team MINI Portugal) has acknowledged the news by saying “thanks” but not much else.

[Source: BMW Motorsport & Prodrive | Pic: Photo4]

MINI ceases works involvement in the WRC.

12.10.2012 Munich. MINI will terminate its works involvement in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) at the end of the 2012 season. The company has made this decision after careful consideration.

Dr. Kay Segler, Senior Vice President MINI Business Coordination and Brand Management: “MINI will abandon its works involvement in the WRC at the end of the 2012 season. By the end of the season WRC Team MINI Portugal will have competed in every rally in 2012. As such, in accordance with FIA regulations, we will have achieved the WRC homologation for the MINI John Cooper Works. In doing so, we would have achieved the prerequisites to allow those interested to continue to run the car in the WRC on a customer rallying basis. BMW Motorsport will continue to further develop the 1.6-litre turbo engine in conjunction with Prodrive. In a very difficult commercial environment, MINI has played an active role in ensuring that friends of the MINI brand can continue to participate in motorsport. As such, the MINI family is retaining its presence on various international platforms and getting even closer to its customers. We would like to see the MINI John Cooper Works WRC continue to run competitively in WRC and other championships. We would like to thank Prodrive, WRC Team MINI Portugal and our partners for the good cooperation, and wish all drivers, teams and customers a successful future in rallying.”

MINI Motorsport has secured the future of its customer teams, while Prodrive will still be able to run, optimise and sell vehicles in the future. BMW Motorsport will continue to develop the 1.6-litre turbo engine and provide Prodrive with parts.

From its rallying debut early in 2011, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC turned out to be a successful model: MINI drivers collected three podiums and many top-ten finishes at the wheel of this car. Arguably the biggest success was achieved by Dani Sordo (ES) in January 2012, when he finished second at the comeback of MINI at the legendary Monte Carlo Rally. With three wins in the Principality – back in 1964, 1965 and 1967 – the Mini laid the foundation for the unique reputation of the brand in rallying.

 

[Official response from Prodrive]

Prodrive focussed on 2013 MINI campaign

Prodrive is continuing to target a full programme of events in the World Rally Championship in 2013 backed up by a comprehensive development programme for both the MINI John Cooper Works WRC and S2000 cars.

This follows the announcement today by MINI that it remains committed to rallying and that BMW Motorsport would continue to develop the car’s 1.6 turbo engine in conjunction with Prodrive, despite MINI ceasing direct financial support for its works team in the WRC in 2013.

Prodrive’s existing long term contract with MINI remains unchanged. This ensures the sales, support and development of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC and S2000 cars, as well as the supply of engines and parts from BMW Motorsport for use by all teams in the WRC, regional and national rallies throughout the full homologation period of the car to 2018.

The Prodrive WRC Team has operated as an independent, private team since early 2012 and will continue to do so in 2013 with the aim of adding to the three WRC podium places already achieved by Dani Sordo.

“We understand MINI’s decision and in the current challenging economic climate it was not unexpected. It is however good news that MINI remains enthusiastic about the WRC and wishes to see MINI rally cars continuing to run competitively in the WRC and other championships. We look forward to continuing to work with MINI and BMW Motorsport to maximise the performance of both WRC and S2000 MINIs on behalf of our mutual customers and our own WRC team,“ said Richard Taylor, Business Development Director at Prodrive.

“We have been developing our own plans for 2013 WRC participation with the MINI John Cooper Works and will announce next season’s Prodrive WRC Team entry and driver details in the due course. We have a number of further enhancements to engine, chassis and transmission scheduled for introduction in the first quarter of 2013 and look forward to making these available to our many rally partners, who already operate MINI JCW cars around the world,” continued Taylor.

The Prodrive WRC Team is now concentrating on preparations for Rally Spain in November where it will run two MINI John Cooper Works WRC cars for Dani Sordo and the young Finnish driver, Jarkko Nikara.