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After teasing us with a hopped-up version at the Paris Auto Show, MINI has now revealed the official race-prepped Countryman WRC machine. Unveiled in Monte Carlo, MINI brought out drivers Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke, as well as the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally winning Mini Cooper and drivers Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk to celebrate.
Built to new WRC specs, the car makes use of a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder and weighs around 2,645 lbs – roughly 560 lbs lighter than the street car.
The 2011 World Rally Championship kicks off February 10th in Sweden.
GALLERY: MINI Countryman WRC
GALLERY: MINI Countryman WRC Show Car
With a huge gulf existing between the road-going version of the MINI Countryman and the WRC-ready version, a halo version that could bridge the gap between urban crossover and full-blown race car could be an asset for MINI, and help them leverage some of the image boost that their rally program will provide, especially in parts of the world where WRC is a popular motorsport.
At this point, the idea of a hardcore Countryman is just a rumor, but the it’s not hard to imagine a pumped up Countryman, perhaps with some tweaks courtesy of a JCW upgrade package, more macho bodywork and big wheels. So far, a concept is supposedly planned for.
MINI‘s long awaited WRC entry debuted at the Paris Auto Show Thursday as the MINI Countryman WRC, flanked by rally heroes such as David Richards (founder of Prodrive) and Jean Todt, president of the FIA, flanked the car as it revved its engine for all to hear.
The sounds of a rally-built 4-cylinder filled the halls as assembled media rushed to get photos of the newest WRC entry. The Countryman WRC is loaded with the best in motorsports equipment – a 6-speed sequential gearbox, Ohlins dampers, AP Racing brakes and a turbocharged engine. The Countryman may not seem like an obvious choice, but the extra suspension travel should make it a better rally car than its two-door brethren. Look for the Countryman WRC factory team in 2011, with privateer teams able to buy the car shortly after.
Hit the jump for the official specs
Gallery: MINI Countryman WRC
Last week we reported that MINI’s new Countryman WRC had completed its initial shakedown, and now we’ve got a trio of videos to prove it. The Prodrive-developed WRC car has been testing out in Portugal with Markko Märtin behind the wheel.
As we mentioned before, the aerodynamics seen on the MINI Countryman WRC currently won’t be the final components used as the final WRC bodywork is under construction. We’ll see limited competition out of MINI for 2011 as they’ll only be participating in select WRC rounds. But their plans is to be full on competition for 2012 and beyond.
As for our initial impressions of the MINI Countryman WRC in these videos, it looks to be a very formidable opponent and it sounds just awesome.
Check out all three videos after the break.
[Source: German Car Scene]
More importantly, however, we’ve been provided with the first glimpse at the rally version of the MINI crossover, with a massive rear spoiler, big off-road tires and a significantly lowered suspension. MINI has confirmed, however, that the aerodynamics on the car are not the ones that will be used when it makes its WRC debut.
Prodrive ran the car for four days at its facility in Warwickshire, driving mostly on tarmac, but also on dirt. The car is now scheduled to travel to Portugal where it will undergo a week of gravel testing.
“As with any totally new car, it is vital to take time to ensure all the systems are working as intended before embarking on a week long gravel test,” said David Lapworth, Prodrive technical director.
MINI intends to run some of the 2011 WRC before preparing for a full season of racing in 2012.
MINI has officially announced that it will enter the World Rally Championship (WRC) next year, teaming up with Prodrive and running a Countryman crossover. The MINI Countryman WRC is being developed by the legendary Prodrive race team (which helped Subaru win six championships) to run part of the 2011 season as it prepares for a full 2012 season of competition.
The modified Countryman model will meet new FIA Super2000 regulations, using a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder BMW Motorsport engine, mated to MINI’s new All4 all-wheel drive system.
In the future, MINI will offer the Countryman WRC model to customer teams, so expand the number of MINIs competing in rally racing internationally.
Rumors suggest several well-known drivers may compete for the official MINI team, including Mads Ostberg and Marcus Gronholm.
Official release after the jump: