Mini was present at the Geneva Motor Show to unveil the John Cooper Works S2000, the precursor to the John Cooper Works WRC that will be run by the Mini WRC Team later in the year. Privateer drivers Daniel Oliveira and Armindo Araujo will give the S2000 its competitive debut on Rally Portugal at the end of March.
Mini has confirmed that, as expected, the John Cooper Works WRC will make its debut in the hands of Mini WRC Team drivers Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke on Rally d'Italia from 5-8 May. Further entries are planned for the WRC rounds in Finland, Germany, France, Spain and Great Britain.
The Mini WRC, built by British firm Prodrive, will bear the high-performance 'John Cooper Works' name rather than that of the mini-SUV Countryman as originally announced.
“We are delighted to present the Mini John Cooper Works S2000 here in Geneva,” said Dr Wolfgang Armbrecht, Senior Vice President Brand Management Mini. “Mini has joined forces with a highly experienced partner in Prodrive, and our colleagues in England continue to oversee the development of the Mini John Cooper Works WRC. When you add the turbocharged Mini engine and the BMW Group's expertise in the world of motor sport to the mix, you can see we have an exceptional blend of attributes which will take us quickly to the next stage. The car's technical make-up and driving characteristics make it the perfect fit for rallying. Entering the WRC takes Mini back to its rally roots and brings this heritage right up to date.”
Brazilian youngster Oliveira will line up in Portugal in a John Cooper Works S2000 for the Brazil World Rally Team. He will be joined by double Production champion Araujo, who will be entered by the Motorsport Italia operation for his home rally. Both Oliveira and Araujo will then swap over to the John Cooper Works WRC for Sardinia, joining factory drivers Sordo and Meeke. Prodrive is currently working on 12 Mini rally cars for the use of customers across Europe.
The Mini John Cooper Works S2000 is similar to its bigger brother WRC. Both will be powered by the 1.6 litre turbocharged engine developed by BMW Motorsport, which will also be used by privateer teams running the BMW 320 TC in the World Touring Car Championship.
The WRC car will benefit from possessing a larger rear wing, as well as a more aerodynamically-efficient front end.
The Mini WRC Team will undertake further tests in the coming weeks, prior to the presentation of the John Cooper Works WRC to the public at the Mini plant in Oxford on 11th April.
The official Mini Motorsport website has gone online, and can be found at www.minimotorsport.com.