MINI WRC TEAM. Press Kit.
- Press Kit
The legend returns: MINI lines up in the FIA WRC in 2011.
Prodrive, an experienced motorsport operation, was chosen as the partner in the quest tocontinue the brand’s success story. The company, founded by David Richards, is viewed as oneof 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 previousmotorsport campaigns. We are both extremely happy and proud to be on board as a partnerwhen MINI returns to rallying. We aim to use 2011 as a preparatory year, amassing experience inorder to ensure we are fully competitive from the start of the following season. But let’s notunderestimate the task ahead of us or the stiff competition we will face on the way. However, ourtarget 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 leadingindependent teams. Currently employing about 500 staff, the company is based in Banbury (GB).Among other successes, Prodrive has to date won six World Rally Championships, five BritishTouring 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 allwheel-drive system. Therefore this model provided the logical basis for a competitive rallyderivative. The flagship MINI Cooper S Countryman is powered by a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrolengine, supplemented not only by a twin-scroll turbocharger and direct fuel injection, but alsofully variable valve management – so offering by far the best relationship between engine powerand fuel consumption in its class. The engine produces an impressive 135 kW / 184 bhp, andaccelerates the MINI Cooper S Countryman from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds.As part of the MINIMALISM concept, a range of fuel- and emission-reducing features are fittedas standard and/or in appropriate combinations, including Brake Energy Regeneration, the AutoStart/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 withpermanent MINI ALL4 all-wheel drive, with an electro-hydraulic differential positioned directly onthe final drive varying the distribution from front to rear in an infinite process. Under normaldriving conditions up to 50 per cent of the engine’s power goes to the rear wheels; underextreme conditions up to 100 per cent, offering a new, high-traction rendition of the agilehandling so typical of MINI.“MINI powered by BMW Motorsport”: The heart of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC is the1.6-litre, four-cylinder Di turbo engine, which is also available in the MINI production models. Theproduction engine was further developed by BMW Motorsport for the use in various categoriesaccording 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 hasbeen fitted with a roll cage developed by Prodrive, which exceeds the strict safety requirementsof the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
Meticulous development work the key to success.
The MINI John Cooper Works WRC has been developed by Prodrive, based on the production
model of the MINI Countryman, and complies with the new regulations enforced by the
International Automobile Federation (FIA). The development started back in 2009 when Prodrive
assembled a team of engineers, which was given complete freedom to design a new rally car.
The goal was to gain a precise idea of what the ideal car must look like, in accordance with the
The engineers focussed on analysis for the initial months. Every minute detail of a rally car was
mapped mathematically. This work produced some interesting results, which had a fundamental
influence on the subsequent approach when designing the MINI John Cooper Works WRC and
on the allocation of technical resources at Prodrive. The company examined more than a dozen
cars from a variety of different manufacturers, measuring key areas such as wheel base, centre of
gravity, weight, tread width, etc.
After performing detailed measurements on the production model of the MINI Countryman, it
soon became clear to the Prodrive engineers this car would provide an excellent basis for a WRC
car. MINI shared all the essential data with the colleagues in Banbury, so that Prodrive could
apply the general design they had come up with previously to this car. One of the key
requirements of the development team was to keep the servicing effort required for the MINI
John Cooper Works WRC to an absolute minimum for private teams, without causing high
maintenance costs. At the same time, the performance should not be compromised. Twenty five
to 30 models will be manufactured per year – a relatively high number by motorsport standards.
For this reason, Prodrive had to ensure the car could also be run easily and economically at
remote locations around the world.
The result of these endeavours is the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. From an engineering point
of view, its design is extremely linear and simple. Prodrive invested a lot of time and effort to
achieve this. Among other features, all four uprights are interchangeable as are the anti-roll bars.
This means customer teams require relatively few spare parts in order to run their cars. In
addition, the car also offers many other innovations. These include the design of the roll cage,
which makes the MINI John Cooper Works WRC extremely safe.
“I am very proud of what our team of engineers has been able to achieve,” says David Richards.
“By combining the experience of David Lapworth our technical director, who has been with
Prodrive since the very beginning, with the inspiration and new ideas from a team of young
engineers we have been able to produce a radically new car. However, let’s not underestimate
the challenge that faces us as I’m sure our competitors are working equally hard on their new
cars for 2011, but if you are going to be a new entrant to any championship, there is no better
time to join than when there’s a new set of technical regulations and a new tyre supplier.”