The all new MINI WRC which will compete in the 2011 World Rally Championship, was put on show for the first time today, at the 2010 Mondial de l'Automobile in Paris.

The Prodrive prepared machine has undergone much development work in the past year, and a recent spate of testing at the Prodrive rally track provided all involved with reason to smile.

In recent months, many drivers have been linked with the team for the 2011 season, and one has now committed.

The 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge Champion Kris Meeke has put pen-to-paper on a deal to pilot one of the MINI Countryman WRC machines throughout the 2011 World Championship season.

Speaking of the Paris unveiling, Ian Robertson, a member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, and responsible for Sales and Marketing, said “The Paris Motor Show is the perfect stage, on which to launch our MINI WRC”.

“The response to our announcement that MINI will return to the world of rallying next year was very positive. The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand. The development of the car is running on schedule, and the preparations for the world championship are in full swing. The MINI Countryman production model provided the ideal basis for our new world championship challenger”, added Robertson.

MINI has a strong heritage in rallying, including many victories on the famous Rally Monte Carlo, and this heritage is sought to be built upon with the new generation of MINI rally machinery.

Prodrive boss David Richards admits he can feel the enthusiasm in the entire project, “This project is a truly passionate opportunity”, he said.

Richards went on to state that 2011 would be used as a year of further development, as the team prepare to mount a serious title challenge in 2012.

“MINI is a cult brand which left a lasting impression during its previous motorsport campaigns. We are both extremely happy and proud to be on board as a partner when MINI returns to rallying. We aim to use 2011 as a preparatory year, amassing experience in order to ensure we are fully competitive from the start of the following season. But let’s not underestimate the task ahead of us nor the stiff competition we will face on the way, however our target is firmly set on winning the World Championship title again with MINI”, said Richards.