BMW set to terminate Prodrive contract to run the Mini WRC team
|By David Evans
||Thursday, February 2nd 2012, 16:13 GMT
The BMW Group is expected to terminate its contract with Prodrive tomorrow, ending the Banbury firm's involvement in the Mini World Rally Team - and casting doubt over the future of the programme.
AUTOSPORT's sources have confirmed the decision to end the Anglo-German alliance.
AUTOSPORT has been unable to get confirmation from BMW in Munich, but sources within the firm have confirmed the end is imminent for what has been a short and unhappy partnership.
"There was a chance this might have happened last year," said the source, "but in the end it was decided to wait until after Monte Carlo. The decision has now been taken at board level and will be communicated in due course."
Prodrive's Richard Taylor denied the partnership would be ended when AUTOSPORT contacted him yesterday.
Taylor said: "That's news to me. There's no question of that, no question at all. The team is on its way to Sweden for the pre-event test as we speak. Mini remains committed to the programme and to supporting customers.
"We all want to see the Mini John Cooper Works WRC out there on the stages and that's what we will see with Prodrive running the cars on Rally Sweden next week."
The team is on its way to Sweden, but AUTOSPORT's sources state this will not stop tomorrow's announcement.
Almost since the team was launched in April last year, there has been unease between BMW and Prodrive concerning the financing of the programme, to the extent that Mini WRT had to shelve plans to run two official drivers this season - leaving Kris Meeke on the bench.
There is speculation that BMW is ready to hand the project over to an Italian preparation firm or quit the whole programme altogether.
Drivers Dani Sordo and Meeke were unavailable for comment when contacted by AUTOSPORT.