News yesterday that MINI has pulled out of the World Rally Championship (WRC). Dr. Kay Segler, Senior Vice President MINI Business Coordination and Brand Management indicated:
“MINI will abandon its works involvement in the WRC at the end of the 2012 season. By the end of the season WRC Team MINI Portugal will have competed in every rally in 2012. As such, in accordance with FIA regulations, we will have achieved the WRC homologation for the MINI John Cooper Works. In doing so, we would have achieved the prerequisites to allow those interested to continue to run the car in the WRC on a customer rallying basis.”
While MINI is pulling out, that latter part of the statement indicates privateer racers, those that are not backed by an automaker, will be able to race in the MINI John Cooper Works. However, notable rally driver Ken Block has previously stated the World Rally Championship format hurts privateer drivers.
The absence of MINI in the 2013 season may not be a complete surprise. During the 2012 season the team garnered only 26 manufacturer points against 388 from the overall winner Citroen Total World Rally Team. With the absence of MINI, the 2013 WRC season will be left with four main manufacturer teams, Ford, Citroën, Hyundai and Volkswagen.