MINI has proved that it may be small in name but that it’s also big in aspiration with the launch of its 2011 John Cooper Works World Rally challenger.
The countryman-based car is set to bring the Mini name back to front-line rallying and the WRC Team will compete in six rounds of this season’s championship before making a full tilt at the title next season. The team’s first appearance this year will be at next month’s ‘Rally d’Italia’ in Sardinia following final tests of the new car in Spain and Britain.
The Prodrive built John Cooper Works rally car was unveiled in a recent launch event at the Mini Plant in Oxford by drivers Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo. The event celebrated Mini’s rich heritage in the sport and Paddy Hopkirk, Timo Makinen and Rauno Aaltonen who all won the Monte Carlo Rally in the classic Mini Cooper in the 1960s were in attendance.
Prodrive boss David Richards, a former team principal of the BAR and Benetton Formula One teams is enthused about bringing Mini back to WRC and hopes this newest incarnation can prove to be every bit as successful.
“We have an experienced team, a talented driver pairing and most importantly of all a strong partnership with MINI,” said Richards.
He added: “We have been working towards this moment for more than two years and it is truly exciting to be launching the Mini WRC Team in what I believe is the most stunning car in world rallying.”
Dani Sordo has joined the Mini WRC team following his departure from the championship winning Citroen team at the end of the 2010 season. Sordo is still searching for his first WRC win and is keen to get the ball rolling.
“I’m really looking forward to the new challenge and to fight for strong results with the Mini John Cooper Works WRC,” said Sordo.
For Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke this represents a first go at the top level of the sport but he enters the season with a growing reputation after winning the Intercontinental Rally Championship 2009.
“The heritage of Mini in motorsport is fantastic. Now we want to make sure we play our part in adding some more chapters to the success story,” said Meeke.