Paris Show: Mini Unveils Countryman WRC in Preparation for 2011 S2000 Rally Season

Working with Prodrive, Mini has officially re-entered the World Rally Championship after a decades-long hiatus. With its Countryman WRC, which made its world premiere in Paris today, Mini will be ready to compete in the 2011 season with a car driven by Kris Meeke.

Unfortunately, the AWD Mini Countryman-based rally car will only be taking part in six of the thirteen 2011 events in what Prodrive founder David Richards is calling a "preparatory year"; don't worry, 2012 will be a full season for the retro racer as it goes for the title.

Under the hood is a BMW Motorsport-tuned 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that uses direct injection and meets all FIA S2000 regulations (meaning the WRC is just the first of its many possible applications). Also, it's hooked up the an Xtrac 6-speed sequential transmission. What we do know is that Mini says the car has undergone a "baptism of fire" at the Prodrive rally track and has gained a Prodrive-developed roll cage.

BMW's Ian Robertson says:

"The Paris Motor Show is the perfect stage on which to launch our MINI WRC. The response to our announcement that MINI will return to the world of rallying next year was very positive. The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand. The development of the car is running on schedule, and the preparations for the world championship are in full swing. The MINI Countryman production model provided the ideal basis for our new world championship challenger."

By Phil Alex