Prodrive has announced that it is work with BMW Motorsport to enhance the performance of the 1.6 litre turbo engine used in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC.

Chief engineer Jason Hill, who has been responsible for developing the various Aston Martin engines that Prodrive has worked on in recent years, will head the race engine team and will work with BMW engineers in Munich on the unit used in both the WRC and by customer teams in the World Touring Car Championship.

"The MINI unit is very strong and there is headroom to increase the output of the 1.6 litre engine," Hill said. "We have refined the engine calibration, turbo control and transmission control strategies which have made better use of the hardware we have and are being implemented now.

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"In the longer term there will be a new evo pack in conjunction with BMW Motorsport, including a number of mechanical enhancements, which will bring a major step change in performance early next year."

Prodrive WRC Team Principal Dave Wilcock admitted that the engine was a key area of development for the MINI programme after the car underwent a number of changes during the 2012 season.

"We know the chassis is very good, our performance in low grip conditions has clearly demonstrated that," he said. "The aero also works well and the car is easy on its tyres and while we are continuing to refine these areas, it is a given that more power will automatically bring with it better stage times. We know there is much more to come from this engine; more than enough to give us the performance to put us at the head of the pack and give us the opportunity to win our first event.

"I worked with Jason for more than ten years in our race team and if there was one area we always had the edge in the Mondeo, Ferrari 550 and the Astons, it was with our engines. Events like Le Mans expose engine performance and Jason's engines have won it three times."