MINI has confirmed that Prodrive will no longer run its manufacturer entry in the World Rally Championship.
The announcement comes after rumours emerged of a possible split between the two parties, despite a successful run of three podium finishes in just seven starts for the MINI John Cooper Works.
WRC Team MINI Portugal will now represent MINI in the manufacturers' championship for the remainder of the season - with Armindo Araujo and Paulo Nobre as the two drivers - with Prodrive reduced to the position of a works-supported privateer.
However, Prodrive – who worked alongside BMW to develop the car – will continue to be responsible for the construction and support of MINI John Cooper Works WRC customer cars and will work on the continued development of the new car, the homologation of which has now been underwritten until 2018.
“I am delighted that the future of MINI in the WRC has been secured on a long-term basis,” Dr. Kay Segler, Senior Vice President MINI Business Coordination and Brand Management. “We remain convinced that the sport of rallying is perfectly suited to our brand. The situation we now find ourselves in means the MINI Motorsport family can, and will, continue to grow on the rally scene. With three podiums from just seven starts in the world championship, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC has already emphatically proven its potential.
“I am confident that our customer teams around the world will continue to thrill MINI fans with this car over the coming years. The FIA was just as interested in the long-term presence of the MINI brand in the WRC as we were, and was actively involved in finding a constructive solution. We are grateful for the good cooperation and the understanding it has shown us.
“With its great enthusiasm and hard work, the Prodrive team has played a major role in the remarkable sporting success we have achieved on our initial outings with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. On behalf of MINI Motorsport, I would like to thank everyone at Prodrive for their efforts so far and we look forward to working with them in support of our MINI John Cooper Works WRC customers in the future.”