A real MINI Adventure

Never one to be on time, here’s my take on MINI entering WRC.

Well it’s been such an open secret, for so long, it was hardly news was it? That said, how often do we hear manufacturers linked to motorsport series’ for it all to ultimately come to nothing? It’s very reassuring that pen has been put to paper and that Prodrive’s order books are filling up.

First and foremost, we have a new manufacturer in top level rallying, fantastic news. The IRC series has shown that the right regs and event format can attract new manufacturers to build works cars. Now that WRC has encouraged it’s first new entrant in years, I sincerely hope that others follow suit. We need some diversity, personally, I’m sad that WRC is purely Focus v C4 and PWRC is purely Impreza v Lancer, variety is the spice of life and all.

Hopefully, the S1.6 Turbo regs will encourage other manufacturers to come in. The 1.6 Turbo is particularly relevant to sport road models these days so why not prove it’s worth on the stages? Ford & Citroen have stood by the WRC for a long time, the marketing value clearly works for them, it could work for others too.

I’m totally in favour of the new 1600 turbo regs, from those who I’ve spoken to at Prodrive, the 1.6 unit will make the same peak power as the 2.0, it’ll just lack the torque. This means that the drivers will need to rev the nuts off then, revs = noise, so the fans will be happy, provided that these claims are accurate.

A new team means at least 2 more cars in the WRC, ignoring customer entries. The WRC badly needs more top level seats to improve the strength in depth of the field. There’s several crews in IRC and even National series’ who could hold their own at the top level, there just isn’t the seats to accommodate them. The driver question is a big one. MINI/Prodrive have said that they will only commit to certain rounds in 2011 with an eye on the full series in 2012. With this kind of plan, then need guys who cam develop a car. Drivers like Toni Gardemeister, PG Anderson, Marcus Gronholm or Markko Martin should be on their list. Once we get in to 2012, IRC chargers like Kris Meeke or Juho Hanninen could be a great prospect. I particularly rate Hanninen, he’s quick but also has a wonderful aggressive style that would thrill the fans.

While the MINI Countryman is a fairly reprehensible vehicle in terms of the original Mini’s vales, the WRC is a great way for them to market it so I wish them all the best. That said, you’ll still look a tit if you actually buy one with your own money : )

Finally, how good is to have Prodrive back? Yes, yes I know they never left thanks to Group N, but you know what I mean. It’s wonderful to have them return to the top flight.

Roll on 2011 I say.

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