Rallyday has announced that the MINI WRC Team will appear at the UK's premier rally car show at Castle Combe Circuit on Saturday 17th September, with Britain's Kris Meeke putting the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car through its paces in the Castrol-sponsored Feature Rally Stage.
Rallyday will give UK rally fans a chance to get up close to the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car ahead of the MINI WRC Team's first competitive outing in the UK in November, when the Prodrive-run outfit tackles Wales Rally GB, the final round in the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship.
MINI officially announced its come comeback last July, with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car based on the MINI Countryman. This season MINI has opted to take in six FIA World Rally Championship events ahead of a full campaign in 2012 and already the Banbury-based outfit has had fantastic success, with Meeke's team-mate, Dani Sordo securing a brilliant third place finish on the recent ADAC Rallye Deutschland, the ninth round in the 2011 World Rally Championship and only MINI's third WRC event and its very first on asphalt.
Meeke, who is one of Britain's top rally drivers and who of course won the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in 2009, will attend two weeks ahead of the MINI WRC Team's fourth WRC outing of the year on Rallye de France Alsace from 29th September to 1st October.
“The last time I was at the Rallyday was seven years ago so to come back after all this time and debut the MINI will be pretty special,” said Meeke, a former protégé of the late great Colin McRae. “It will also be my first time back in the car since Rallye Deutschland, so it will be great to get some more time behind the wheel on tarmac as we build up to our next events in France and Spain. We'll be using the event to do some further development of the car, but I'll also be looking to have some fun and to entertain the crowds too.”
Rallyday organisers, Brian Stubbings and Darin Frow are both extremely pleased the MINI WRC Team will appear at the event with Meeke.
The news follows on from confirmation the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will attend with the new Fiesta RS WRC car (driver to be announced shortly), as well as the appearance of 'Flying Finn' and former WRC works ace Harri Rovanperä, who will drive MML Sports' new R4 Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX.
“We are delighted MINI can attend the show this year, especially as it's their first year back in the FIA World Rally Championship,” Stubbings said. “Rallyday is always about a mixture of historic and current World Rally Cars and having the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car there brings it bang up to date.”
“MINI is a name synonymous with rallying so it's fantastic to have the team at Rallyday, and having another current WRC manufacturer in the paddock will be another great new attraction for all the spectators,” Frow added.