MINI has confirmed Kris Meeke as the first driver who will drive the Countryman WRC when it makes its debut in the World Rally Championship this season.

Meeke will join the programme having spent recent seasons competing in the IRC, which he won last season with the Peugeot UK team.

The announcement of Meeke's signing, which has been rumoured for some time, came as the Countryman WRC was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show.

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The car will contest selected events next year ahead of a full programme in 2012.

"This project is a truly passionate opportunity," Prodrive boss David Richards said. "MINI is a cult brand which left a lasting impression during its previous motorsport campaigns. We are both extremely happy and proud to be on board as a partner when MINI returns to rallying.

"We aim to use 2011 as a preparatory year, amassing experience in order to ensure we are fully competitive from the start of the following season. But let's not underestimate the task ahead of us nor the stiff competition we will face on the way, however our target is firmly set on winning the World Championship title again with MINI."