Mini will end its works program in the World Rally Championship at the end of the 2012 season. It will continue to develop the 1.6-liter turbo engine that the WRC Minis run in conjunction with Prodrive, but will leave competition to privateers after this year.
Mini began the season with Prodrive as its factory team, but replaced it with WRC Mini Team Portugal early in the year. Prodrive has continued to run Minis in selected rallies as a privateer team, while Mini Team Portugal has competed in every rally, and will compete in the remaining rallies in Sardinia and Spain. By competing in all rallies, Mini will have met the WRC’s requirement for homologating the car.
In a press release dated October 12, 2012, Mini Senior Vice President Dr. Kay Segler said, “Mini will abandon its works involvement in the WRC at the end of the 2012 season. By the end of the season WRC Team Mini Portugal will have competed in every rally in 2012. As such, in accordance with FIA regulations, we will have achieved the WRC homologation for the Mini John Cooper Works. In doing so, we would have achieved the prerequisites to allow those interested to continue to run the car in the WRC on a customer rallying basis. BMW Motorsport will continue to further develop the 1.6-litre turbo engine in conjunction with Prodrive.”
It appears that Prodrive will continue to run Minis in 2013. Autosport.com quotes Prodrive’s Richard Taylor as saying, "We understand Mini's decision and in the current challenging economic climate it was not unexpected. It is however good news that Mini remains enthusiastic about the WRC and wishes to see Mini rally cars continuing to run competitively in the WRC and other championships. We look forward to continuing to work with Mini and BMW Motorsport to maximize the performance of both WRC and S2000 Minis on behalf of our mutual customers and our own WRC team."
Mini has scored three podium finishes and a number of top ten finishes over the course of the season. Most recently Team Portugal’s Mini driven by Chris Atkinson finished eighth in Rally France. The highlight of the season was arguably Mini’s performance in the first rally of the season in Monte Carlo, where Dani Sordo finished second.—Brian S. MorganBack to News