Although MINI will no longer be financing a factory effort in the WRC, BMW Motorsport will continue to develop the 1.6-litre turbo engine - used to claim three podiums and two Power Stage victories to date - in conjunction with Prodrive.
The British engineering firm has an agreement with MINI to continue selling John Cooper Works WRCs and supporting its customers around the world throughout the homologation period of the car to 2018. Better still, Prodrive is aiming to take part on all 13 rounds next season in addition to trying to make the MINI go even faster.
“We understand MINI’s decision and in the current challenging economic climate it was not unexpected,” said Prodrive’s business development director Richard Taylor. “It is however good news that MINI remains enthusiastic about the WRC and wishes to see MINI rally cars continuing to run competitively in the WRC.”
Prodrive plans to announce its programme and driver line-up for the 2013 season - when it will introduce chassis, engine and transmission tweaks to the John Cooper Works WRC - in due course.
Meanwhile, Motorsport Italia - which has run the two-car WRC Team MINI Portugal effort this year - is working on linking up with a new manufacturer in the wake of MINI’s announcement.
“This decision is disappointing, but none of us should forget that MINI has achieved some great things since its comeback,” said Motorsport Italia’s Bruno De Pianto. “Now we are focused on the future and our next challenge.”
As well as chasing a new manufacturer agreement, Motorsport Italia’s sister team, Ralliart Italia, is on course to win the Production Car world championship for a third time. The series resumes on Rally Italia Sardegna this week.