World Rally Championship

Mini to continue as “WRC Team Mini Portugal”

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    Mini say they will stay in the WRC with Armindo Araujo and Paulo Nobre driving. They describe the team as a “works-supported private team”.

    Here’s the press release in full, I’ve not had time to scrutinise it yet as the Toro Rosso launch is imminent:

    MINI Motorsport to follow new path in the FIA WRC.

    Munich. After Dani Sordo (ES) and Carlos del Barrio (ES) finished second on the return of the brand to the legendary Monte Carlo Rally, the direction has now been set for a long-term MINI presence in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC): On Thursday 2 February, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) accepted a two-car manufacturer entry by WRC Team MINI Portugal into the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers. As a consequence MINI will complete the homologation for the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. The WRC Team MINI Portugal – consisting of Armindo Araújo (PT) and his co-driver Miguel Ramalho (PT), as well as Paulo Nobre (BR) and co-driver Edu Paula (BR) – will contest the remaining 12 events of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship.

    This long-term homologation ensures that the MINI John Cooper Works WRC can be used in the premier league of rallying, and other series in accordance with FIA regulations, up to and including 2018. The cooperation with Prodrive will be put on a new basis. Prodrive remains responsible for the construction and support of MINI John Cooper Works WRC customer vehicles, and will continue to work with the BMW Group on the further development of the car. The WRC Team, run by Prodrive, will from now on start as a works-supported private team.

    “I am delighted that the future of MINI in the WRC has been secured on a long-term basis,” said Dr. Kay Segler, Senior Vice President MINI Business Coordination and Brand Management. “We remain convinced that the sport of rallying is perfectly suited to our brand. The situation we now find ourselves in means the MINI Motorsport family can, and will, continue to grow on the rally scene. With three podiums from just seven starts in the world championship, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC has already emphatically proven its potential. I am confident that our customer teams around the world will continue to thrill MINI fans with this car over the coming years. The FIA was just as interested in the long-term presence of the MINI brand in the WRC as we were, and was actively involved in finding a constructive solution. We are grateful for the good cooperation and the understanding it has shown us.”

    Segler added: “With its great enthusiasm and hard work, the Prodrive team has played a major role in the remarkable sporting success we have achieved on our initial outings with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. On behalf of MINI Motorsport, I would like to thank everyone at Prodrive for their efforts so far and we look forward to working with them in support of our MINI John Cooper Works WRC customers in the future.”


    So, what happens to Sordo and Pierre Campana?


    I quite like the idea of WRC Team MINI Portugal. Mainly because I’m from Portugal. WRC Team MINI Portugal is now officially my favourite WRC team. We’ll all be ecstatic here.

    There was some rumours about that here in Portugal about a week ago, but I decided not to tell until it got official.


    @smallandhairy According to this autosport article, Prodrive are going to continue with Dani Sordo, although probably without any help from BMW


    Sooo… Let me get this straight: the constructor (Prodrive) will become a privateer and a local privateer (team Portugal) will become the works outfit. In effect, Mini will compete in WRC, but without any chance of beating any of the established teams, right? Probably BMW is short of cash. Then again, as far as I read, they weren’t paying Prodrive that much in the first place…
    I fear for Mini’s survival in the WRC. BMW doesn’t like unsuccessful motorsport projects and previous knowledge (Williams, Sauber) indicates they have no qualms in pulling the plug of said projects…


    What. A. Mess.

    Things are just going from bad to worse at the moment for the WRC. I have no doubt there is light at the end of the tunnel, I just hope it’s not very long tunnel.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    They were evidently unhappy with the way Prodrive was running the team. Since that is the case, why should they be obligated to stay with a team they have no confidence in as their official works entry?


    They were unhappy with Prodrive! Their decision made it obvious! And, well, I’m guessing, they had some sort of contractual obligation towards them…. Still, I cannot but wonder how this decision affects their short term success and their long term survival, for that matter. It’s not wise to separate the racing division from the R&D department. Different groups, with varying work ethics will render the data acquisition (for starters) less efficient.
    Anyways, they probably know better and they, hopefully, want the Mini WRC campaign to succeed…

    Prisoner Monkeys

    I cannot but wonder how this decision affects their short term success and their long term survival, for that matter

    I thin they’re probably willing to sacrifice their short-term success in the name of their long-term survival.

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