Mini confirms entry for 2012 World Rally Championship
|By David Evans
||Wednesday, January 4th 2012, 11:27 GMT
The Mini World Rally Team has confirmed its entry in the 2012 World Rally Championship, according to AUTOSPORT's sources.
The British-based team missed the original December 19 entry, but an announcement is expected this week to clarify Mini's position, joining Ford and Citroen as full manufacturers in the series.
As confirmed by the Monte Carlo Rally entry list - and revealed by AUTOSPORT - the team will only run one of its two factory drivers full-time in this year's WRC.
Spaniard Dani Sordo will maintain his seat in the #37 John Cooper Works WRC, while Kris Meeke misses the season opener in favour of paying private driver Pierre Campana.
AUTOSPORT's source in the FIA said: "We have an agreement that Mini will be registered as a manufacturer for this year's championship. We understand there are existing concerns over the position of the promoter - and particularly the implications for the sport's coverage in Germany, but we are addressing those concerns."
Mini's parent company BMW is known to be unhappy about the level of coverage in Germany and about the ongoing situation with North One Sports and the future of its parent company Convers Sports Initiatives, which is in administration.
While Mini has committed a car to the full world championship, it remains to be seen whether Sordo will compete in the most expensive rounds of the series, such as Rally New Zealand, or whether one of private Mini drivers takes the entry.
The source added: "This is not an ideal situation. Ideally we wanted, in fact everybody involved wanted, the original plan of two cars, two drivers: Sordo and Meeke doing all 13 rounds. That wasn't possible, so we had to find a solution which we have done. The priority here is that Mini is a manufacturer in the 2012 WRC."
Tensions are still believed to be running high between BMW in Munich and Prodrive, the Banbury-based team which developed and runs the factory Mini John Cooper Works WRCs.
As was announced at the team launch last year, Prodrive does has a contract with BMW to run its cars in the world championship until the end of next season.
Nobody from Prodrive was willing to comment on the firm's WRC commitments for the year ahead.