As Paul Duchene told you last week, Mini WRC driver Kris Meeke got a visit from the Grinch just before Christmas, when he was told that he would not be running the Mini WRC in the Monte Carlo Rally.
While BMW Motorsport has not yet released an official statement on its plans for Monte Carlo, the opening event in the 2012 World Rally championship season opener, it is apparent that funding of the two-car Prodrive team was behind the changes. (Text continues after photo)
Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio, who drove for the team in the 2011 test season along with Meeke and his co-driver Paul Nagle, will compete at Monte Carlo, but the second car will be run by Pierre Campana of France, who is paying for the ride. According to autosport.com, Meeke remains with the team as a test driver and as a possible entrant in selected rallies over the course of the 2012 season.
The first hint of a problem surfaced when Mini missed the entry deadline for Monaco; at that point autosport.com said that there were negotiations between the Prodrive team and BMW Motorsport over funding. The Belfast Telegraph (especially interested in the story as Meeke is from Northern Ireland) says that there has been an outpouring of protest over the decision to drop Meeke. It notes that the WRC program has always been underfunded, and that failure to secure a major sponsor has led to the decision to give the second car to paying drivers. The Telegraph says that “by dropping Meeke and selling his seat to anyone who can pay — around €220,000 per event — Prodrive are hoping to struggle on until proper funding can be found.”
Autocar.co.uk says that while there has been no official announcement Sordo will run the entire 2012 WRC season.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.orgBack to News