Prodrive Mini tie-up to be announced

Prodrive will announce its latest WRC venture with BMW Mini later this week, according to Autosport.

Rumours have been rife for months that the Banbury outfit were building a new WRC contender for either Mini or Toyota, and the former option is set to be confirmed by team officials, after several months of development.

“When we start testing on our rally car development programme, it will be intensive,” said technical director David Lapworth. “We still have a good timescale to work towards for testing and we’re happy with where we’re at.”

Prodrive has denied any sort of agreement has been made between the two parties, despite persistent rumours for almost a year now saying the deal was already completed.

Prodrive also has a driver lined up for one of its new Mini WRC contenders, Mads Ostberg. The Norwegian has been a loyal customer to Prodrive and looks set to take one of the factory drives, as well as run his own customer team. He is also expected to do much of the early testing before making its WRC debut at some point next year.

Other names linked to the seat have been Petter Solberg, P-G Andersson and young Finnish hotshot Jarkko Nikara, and with the likes of Markko Martin and Chris Atkinson looking for a way back into the top level of rallying, the team is really spoiled for choice when it comes to drivers.

Some suggest the car will be launched in Rome ahead of next year’s Rally Sardinia, meaning it would miss at least the opening four rounds of the season.