Dani Sordo will drive the MINI John Cooper Works WRC on its British debut this weekend at the Cornbury Park Rally Show, fresh from securing a superb sixth place finish at Rally Italy and where the MINI WRC Team made its first ever appearance.
The MINI WRC Team driver will put the car through its paces on 14 and 15 May, only a week after Rally Italy in Sardinia, its first outing in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The 1.1 mile stage at Cornbury Park will be the first event British rally fans get to see the MINI in action on home soil and will provide a thrilling opportunity for VIPs to accompany Dani Sordo on one of the runs.
After an exciting weekend in Sardinia, Dani Sordo said, “It will be great to be back in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC so soon after our debut in Italy. I know that everyone in the UK wants to see the car in action and I aim to give the thousands of rally fans at Cornbury Park a great display.”
Dani Sordo, from Spain, is one of two experienced drivers the MINI WRC Team has put its faith in. Kris Meeke, from Northern Ireland, will also face up to the challenge of the WRC for the first time in 2011. Both drivers showed good turns of speed in Rally Italy that bodes well for the future. Dani brought his car to the ceremonial finish in sixth whilst Kris sadly suffered a technical problem which prevented him from finishing.
MINI’s eagerly anticipated return of to the international motorsport stage begins a new era for the brand. In 2011, the MINI WRC Team will compete at selected rounds of the WRC in order to prepare for the complete 2012 World Championship season. Based on the MINI Countryman, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC has been developed by Prodrive and is equipped with a 1.6 litre turbo engine further developed by BMW Motorsport.
Jochen Goller, Director of MINI UK, said, “We are delighted to be able to demonstrate the MINI John Cooper Works WRC to MINI fans in the UK for the first time. The Cornbury Park Show is a great location and so close to MINI Plant Oxford, where the launch of the WRC Team took place on 11th April.”
MINI and the WRC – background information
Rallying is far from new territory for MINI. In the past, success in this popular motorsport discipline has played a crucial role in defining the brand’s image. Three victories at the Rally Monte Carlo in the 1960s made the Mini Cooper S a true legend. Mini also competed in the European Rally Championship, where it once again notched up countless triumphs.
The MINI John Cooper Works WRC has undergone an intensive programme of tests and completed thousands of miles. The car made its World Championship debut at the Rally d’Italia Sardegna at the start of May. The MINI John Cooper Works S2000 already made its first appearance in the WRC at the Rally Portugal in March.
Prodrive, an experienced motorsport operation, was chosen as the partner in the quest to continue the brand?s success story. The company, founded by David Richards, is viewed as one of the most respected and successful in rallying. “This project is a truly passionate opportunity,” believes Richards. “MINI is a cult brand which left a lasting impression during its previous motorsport campaigns. We are both extremely happy and proud to be on board as a partner when MINI returns to rallying. We aim to use 2011 as a preparatory year, amassing experience in order to ensure we are fully competitive from the start of the following season. But let’s not underestimate the task ahead of us or the stiff competition we will face on the way. However, our target is firmly set on winning the World Championship title again with MINI.”
Prodrive was founded in 1984, and has established itself as one of motorsport’s leading independent teams. Currently employing about 500 staff, the company is based in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Among other successes, Prodrive has to date won six World Rally Championships, five British Touring Car titles, and scored three class victories in France’s classic Le Mans 24 Hours.
The MINI Countryman is the youngest MINI model and also the first to be equipped with an all-wheel-drive system. Therefore this model provided the logical basis for a competitive rally derivative. The flagship MINI Cooper S Countryman is powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, supplemented not only by a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection, but also fully variable valve management – so offering by far the best relationship between engine power and fuel consumption in its class. The engine produces an impressive 135 kW / 184 bhp, and accelerates the MINI Cooper S Countryman from 0 to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds.
As part of the MINIMALISM concept, a range of fuel and emission reducing features are fitted as standard and/or in appropriate combinations, including Brake Energy Regeneration, the Auto Start/Stop function, Shift Point Display and the need-based operation of ancillary components.
All MINI Cooper S Countryman and MINI Cooper D Countryman are optionally available with permanent MINI ALL4 all-wheel drive, with an electro-hydraulic differential positioned directly on the final drive varying the distribution from front to rear in an infinite process. Under normal driving conditions up to 50 per cent of the engine’s power goes to the rear wheels; under extreme conditions up to 100 per cent, offering a new, high-traction rendition of the agile handling so typical of MINI.
“MINI powered by BMW Motorsport”: The heart of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC is the 1.6-litre, four-cylinder Di turbo engine, which is also available in the MINI production models. The production engine was further developed by BMW Motorsport for the use in various categories according to FIA Super2000 regulations. The power transmission takes place via an Xtrac 6-speed, sequential gearbox. For its outings on the rally stages, the MINI Countryman chassis has been fitted with a roll cage developed by Prodrive, which exceeds the strict safety requirements of the International Automobile Federation (FIA).