Norwegian driver Mads Ostberg is reported to have been the first person to test a Mini Countryman WRC.
Ostberg drove the Prodrive-built car at the firm's Warwick test track earlier this week - and could form part of the factory team next season.
His potential deal with Mini is not a straightforward driver contract in the style of the agreements believed to have been made with Kris Meeke and P-G Andersson, but it is linked to a possible commercial deal for Ostberg's Adapta team to buy and run Minis. Ostberg already has a relationship with Prodrive having driven Subarus in the World Rally Championship so far.
"It's great to be the first rally driver to drive the car," said Ostberg. "The car is completely new and it was the first time it was on gravel. It's not possible to make a review on the basis of that."
Prodrive's technical director David Lapworth added: "As with any totally new car, it is vital to take time to ensure all the systems are working as intended before embarking on a week long gravel test."
The team has now moved to Portugal for the test.
Adapta team manager David Campion said: "The team is pleased that Mads had the honour of being first. We have received a proposal which, if we accept it, will place Mads in the Mini factory team next year. But there are important negotiations before an agreement can come into place.
"There is, nevertheless, the historical fact that Mads was the first who tested the car on gravel. It will stand on his CV for ever."