Well that was fast. After just one year, MINI has announced that it is pulling out of the World Rallying Championship. They went from wanting to win the whole thing in 2013 to pulling out in 2012. Earlier this year even, they committed to WRC, with Dr. Kay Segler saying “We remain convinced that the sport of rallying is perfectly suited to our brand.”
We agree. So what happened then? MINI made a big deal about its WRC entrance when they first announced the program in 2010. Since then things have gone downhill – changes in program status, dumping of drivers, missing deadlines. The biggest success came in January when driver Dani Sordo took second place.
MINI chose to enter the championship with the JCW Countryman, developing a WRC model last year for competition in this year’s races. Last year it ran just six rounds as practice, so that doesn’t count. Originally, MINI planned to work with Prodrive on a full-scale works effort, financed entirely by the manufacturer. In February of this year, they decided to reduce their involvement to supporting a private team.
That set the stage for a pull-out entirely. What MINI’s involvement has achieved though is full homologation. Enough points have been accrued thanks to the company running the WRC in each race for the year. That means interested customers and private teams can run the car in the championship if they so choose. BMW Motorsport says it will continue to develop and offer the WRC model (and supporting parts) in conjunction with ProDrive. MINI says it would “like to see the MINI John Cooper Works WRC run competitively in WRC and other championships.” MINI will continue to involve itself in other motorsports activities – and who knows, private teams could get involved and make a run for it next year.