FIA Vice President for Sport, Mohammed Ben Sulayem tested the new MINI John Cooper Works WRC car earlier this week and declared the new generation of rally cars 'fun to drive'.
The 14-time Middle East Rally champion, who has won more international rallies than any other driver in history, experienced the new generation of World Rally Car for the first time at Prodrive's test track in Warwickshire
The Dubai resident, who turns 50 in November, is also President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates and is the official FIA and FIM representative overseeing all motorsport events in the UAE.
He spent 30 minutes familiarising himself with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC, but with his wealth of rallying experience was soon feeling at home driving around the 1.5 km adverse handling circuit.
“It's the first time I have had a chance to drive a new World Rally Car. Now, without the clever diffs and with the smaller lower boosted engines, you have to work the cars much harder, making them much more fun to drive and more spectacular for the fans,” he said.
The MINI John Cooper Works WRC made its competitive debut last month at Rally d'Italia in Sardinia, where ex-Citroen man Dani Sordo brought the leading car home in a very respectable sixth place.
Sordo and Kris Meeke will now return to the World Rally Championship in July, at the MINI WRC Team's next outing in Finland.
The team is only competing in six WRC events in 2011 in readiness for a full season in 2012.