Triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx got the chance this week to get behind the wheel of the car that will return the Mini brand to rallying in 2011.
Priaulx was given the opportunity to drive the Mini Countryman WRC by David Richards, whose Prodrive company is responsible for designing, building and running the cars, in partnership with Mini. The Mini brand is part of the BMW Group, for whom Priaulx is an official driver through BMW Motorsport.
The test took place at Prodrive's private test track near Banbury. The Mini WRC is fitted with the same 1.6 litre turbocharged engine that Priaulx tested in the BMW 320 TC at Valencia last week, and will be used by privateers in the 2011 WTCC.
Mini driver Kris Meeke sat alongside Priaulx during the test, and was able to give the Guernseyman some useful advice.
“I had a bit of fun,” Priaulx said. “It was great as Kris Meeke was there so he was able to show me the ropes, and then was brave enough to sit beside me while I drove the car. It really is a lovely little car, and I am sure the programme will be successful.”
He added: “This was an amazing opportunity and I can't thank David Richards enough for giving me such a great chance. However, before anyone starts getting excited about me swapping from racing to rallying, I need to point out it is a one off and I can't visualise myself taking on the rally boys at this stage in my career!”