Prodrive has confirmed that it will introduce more than 100 modifications to its MINI John Cooper Works WRC when it returns to action on Rally Portugal later this month.
The new modifications are being homologated by the FIA and will be made available to all MINI WRC cars, with the changes being the latest part of a development programme that has been underway since October last year.
A major focus has been on development of the car's 1.6 litre turbo-charged engine, with changes made resulting in a three per cent increase in peak power. Amongst the changes, Prodrive has redesigned the induction system with a new restrictor and restrictor feed, while the engine cooling system has been made more efficient, with the introduction of an electrically-operated water pump.
Without a belt-driven water pump, the alternator has been moved and the whole area around the drive belt made more robust, while the engine management system software and associated electronics have been upgraded with optimised fail safe modes and enhanced driver and co-driver in-car displays.
The front bumper of the car has been remodelled to improve engine cooling and aerodynamic performance, while the new front splitter design allows the car to run at lower ride heights on gravel surfaces – reducing airflow under the car and increasing front-end downforce.
Work alongside suspension partner Ohlins has improved the performance of its dampers, while a heavy duty suspension package has been developed for some of the rougher events on the schedule.
A lithium-ion battery, which provides a weight saving of more than 7kg over the lead-acid battery it replaces, can now be run on the car, while a change to the manufacturing process of the rear wing has also allowed Prodrive to reduce the base weight of the car.
“Both drivers were really pleased with the developments and could feel the increase in performance both directly from the engine and in the dynamic behaviour of the car over the rough stages,” Prodrive team principal Dave Wilcock said after Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke completed a four-day test in the revised car in Spain. “This is a significant step forward for the MINI WRC, but our development work hasn't stopped and the engineering team are already looking at the next set of improvements for later this year.”
Sordo and Patrik Sandell will drive the two Prodrive cars in Portugal, with the team not travelling to Mexico for the next round on the schedule.