Mini unveils definitive 2011 WRC
|By David Evans||Monday, April 11th 2011, 12:36 GMT|
The Mini John Cooper Works WRC team has been launched in Oxford today - ahead of the car's competition debut on next month's Rally d'Italia.
The first factory Mini to be produced in Oxfordshire since the late 1960s was unveiled to more than 200 print media and 33 television companies at the Cowley works where most Minis are produced. The World Rally Car is built by Prodrive, just north of the city in Banbury.
Mini drivers Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke shared the job of revealing one of the most eagerly anticipated rally cars in the history of the sport.
Prior to the Mini's first competitive outing in the World Rally Championship, Meeke and Sordo will run through two more tests, one in Spain and the final check in Wales.
Mini's Ian Robertson said it was clear from his first meeting with Prodrive's David Richards to discuss the possibility of working together on Mini's return to the WRC that the project made sense for the iconic brand.
"It was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2009," said Robertson, "I remember it well, it was a very warm day! We talked about what we could do and it all came together from there.
"When we had the Countryman coming, the first four-wheel drive Mini, the first Mini more than four metres long, moving back into world rallying was a natural progression for the car. We are hugely excited about this."
Richards was equally happy with the alliance, adding: "It was almost a very happy coincidence that we came together. As you know, we had produced a generic design of a World Rally Car under the new regulations, but the first Minis we looked at were too small to use. Then the Countryman came and everything fitted perfectly with the generic car we'd been working on."
Two of Mini's most famous names from the past, Paddy Hopkirk and Rauno Aaltonen, both of whom won the Monte Carlo Rally with Mini, were present at today's launch.