From 2011, MINI will compete at selected rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and will go on to contest the entire season from 2012 onwards. The plan of the brand is to race for several years.

The car, which will take place in the championship is the MINI Countryman WRC, specially developed by Prodrive. It is powered by 1.6 litre four cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine from BMW Motorspor. The car meets the new Super2000 regulations, which the use of turbo engines with 1,600 cc displacement and four-wheel drive combined with an increased emphasis on road relevant technologies.

The first test drive for the MINI Countryman WRC, which will also be available to customer teams, is planned for autumn 2010.

"I am delighted MINI will be represented on one of the most popular stages in international motorsport. The success enjoyed on the rally circuit has made a vital contribution to the image of the brand. MINI customers have always shown great interest in motorsport. I am convinced we will add a few more chapters to our success story in rallying. The MINI Countryman provides an excellent basis, from which to create a competitive racing car for the world championship. In Prodrive, we have a strong and experienced partner. We will work hard together over the coming months to ensure we get the project on track right from the word go.", comments Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing.2011 MINI Countryman WRC

"This is a very exciting new motorsport programme," said Prodrive Chairman, David Richards.

"During the 1960s MINI captured the imagination of the world when the tiny car took on the might of V8 powered Fords and won what was then one of the toughest motorsport events, the 4000km Monte Carlo rally. I believe our new MINI will become a firm favourite of the latest generation of rally fans, just as it is adored by its millions of owners across the world. We already have a significant number of confirmed customer orders for the new MINI rally car with the first deliveries scheduled for the start of the 2011 season.", he added.

Prodrive has been working on the MINI Countryman WRC since the beginning of 2009. The company was formed in 1984 by Richards, who won the World Rally Championship as co-driver to Ari Vatanen (FI) three years earlier. Based in Banbury (GB), Prodrive has developed into a leading independent company in the motorsport and automobile sector under Richards' guidance, and today employs over 500 staff. Prodrive's many successes currently include six overall victories in the World Rally Championship, five titles in the British Touring Car Championship and three class victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours (FR).

The small engine of MINI Cooper S Countryman features twin-scroll turbocharger and direct injection now complemented by fully variable valve management. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine offers by far the best balance between output and fuel consumption in its displacement class. The engine generates 184 bhp accelerates the MINI Cooper S Countryman to from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.6 seconds.