The MINI John Cooper Works WRC car was presented in its final World Championship design today.

Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo were on hand to take the wraps off the car, which has been developed by Prodrive. The team, as previously confirmed, will contest six rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship this season, beginning next month with the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, before launching a full assault in 2012.

The 'Team Launch' took place in the 'T Building' of the MINI Plant in Oxford, with the spotlight initially on legendary MINI winners, Paddy Hopkirk and Rauno Aaltonen as they drove onto the stage behind the wheel of the Classic Mini Cooper S. The guests and media representatives were then treated to the first look at the MINI John Cooper Works WRC in its final specification.

"We have been working towards this moment for more than two years and it is truly exciting to be launching the MINI WRC Team and what I believe is the most stunning car in World Rallying, the MINI John Cooper Works WRC," said Prodrive boss, David Richards. "We have an experienced team, a talented driver pairing and, most importantly of all, a strong partnership with MINI. We are now eagerly looking forward to demonstrating the performance of the car on its debut in Sardinia in just a few weeks."

"The excitement of everyone involved in the comeback of MINI to the rally stage is building with every day we get closer to our maiden rally appearance," added Dirk Hollweg, Head of MINI Motorsport.

"With the MINI WRC Team we not only want to please the loyal fans of the MINI brand, but also aim to address new motorsport enthusiasts. We want to thrill them with fascinating pictures, technical know-how and pure performance. In addition, the special MINI lifestyle is always part of the equation. For us, it's always about a bit more than just motorsport. I think the rally fans will love it."

Meanwhile, having already completed several thousand kilometres of tests behind the wheel of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC, Meeke and Sordo can hardly wait to finally compete in the first rally for the MINI John Cooper Works WRC Team.

"This launch is the next milestone on the long way to our first rally," said Meeke following the presentation of the car. "I cannot wait to get the season started. It's nice for everyone in the team to see the result of their work presented in such a spectacular way. The heritage of MINI in motorsport is fantastic. Now we want to make sure we play our part in adding some more chapters to the success story."

Sordo is also highly motivated ahead of his sixth season in the WRC: "It's about time we got the ball rolling," added the ex-Citroen man. "The break since my last rally has been long enough, now we want to show how good we are.

"Everything is new for me this year. Bearing this in mind, the additional time to get accustomed to my new environment has definitely been helpful. Now I'm really looking forward to the new challenge and to fight for strong results with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC."