Mini and BMW have been up to a lot lately and much of it is coming out this week in Geneva. With an onslaught of new models in recent years, Mini is now a larger brand than ever. They feel it is the perfect time to enter the racing world and the World Rally Car Championship is where they are going to take their chance.
At the show, Mini unveiled the John Cooper Works S2000 which is the predecessor to the WRC car that will come out soon. The main difference between the two cars is that the S2000 will be for private teams to purchase and race while the WRC car will be for the Mini Team. 2011 FIA racing regulations have instated a rule change thus allowing private teams to race head-to-head with the factory teams, hoping to derive more excitement from the sport.
The two cars will have several differences, but the S2000 debut shows the collaboration between Mini and BMWa class='spip_auto' href='http://www.topspeed.com/index.html' title='W Motors'>W Motorsports. Dr. Wolfgang Armbrecht, Senior Vice President Brand Management MINI said, “When you add the turbocharged MINI engine and the BLW Group’s expertise in the world of motor sport to the mix, you can see we have an exceptional blend of attributes that will take us quickly to the next stage.” Let’s hope it’s extremely quick, because races start at Rally Italy on May 8, 2011.
Hit the jump for more details on the Mini John Cooper Works S2000.
The cars are both designed based off the Mini Countryman model and many components of the WRC and the S2000 will be the same, but several key areas remain changed. The WRC car will be fitted with a larger rear wing and some aerodynamic enhancements to the front end. Mini will also be using lightweight plastics throughout these cars and the WRC car will feature side windows made from it. The major technological change will be the addition of water-cooled brakes for the front axle which will improve performance on asphalt.
Several other components of the WRC car were designed in collaboration with Mini and experts in this particular technology. For instance, Ohlins has helped to fine tune the suspension system and enhance travel so that the car will be better able to react to changing surfaces. With all the accidents and mechanical mishaps that happen in rally racing, Mini has ensured that many of the suspension pieces are interchangeable from the front to the rear. This not only makes things easier to swap out, but the teams need to carry fewer parts to the different races.
Unlike the Countryman, the WRC car has no ABS system and runs on a different set of wheels. 18’ diameter units in conjunction with AP racing brakes are going to be used to keep the WRC in check. The disks measure 300mm front and rear and should provide much improved stopping power versus the Mini in your garage.
Technical Specs and Racing Future
With more testing to be done on the car in the coming weeks this information is sure to updated, but for now we know the car will utilize the Mini 1.6-liter four-cylinder that has been turbocharged and enhanced by BMW Motorsport. Permanent four-wheel drive will certainly be used and a six-speed sequential gearbox will help send the power to all four wheels. Minimum weight for rally cars are set by the FIA and the MINI comes in right on that minimum number of 1,200kg.
At the Paris Auto Show, Mini unveiled their WRC model for the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship. However, in 2011 the new Mini WRC will only compete in six of 13 scheduled rounds, with only 2012 being a full season for them. The MINI WRC is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder Di turbo-charged engine.
"The Paris Motor Show is the perfect stage, on which to launch our MINI WRC,” says Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Sales and Marketing. “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."
The 2011 WRC Calendar has been set and Mini team plans to take advantage of several of the races later in the season.
| Date || Event |
| February 10-13, 2011 || Rally Sweden |
| March 3-6, 2011 || Rally Mexico |
| March 24-27, 2011 || Rally Portugal |
| April 14-16, 2011 || Rally Jordan |
| July 28-31, 2011 || Rally Finland* |
| August 18-21, 2011 || Rally Germany* |
| September 8-11, 2011 || Rally Australia |
| September 29- October 2, 2011 || Rally France* |
| October 20-23, 2011 || Rally Spain* |
| November 10-13, 2011 || Rally Great Britain |
Mini will be releasing the WRC to the public at its plant in Oxford, Great Britain in April 2011.