MINI CHAL­LENGE GETS FAC­TORY BACK­ING MINI UK only in­ter­ested in sin­gle-make rac­ing

Tech and parts sup­port as well as a move to the Bri­tish GT pack­age for next year

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

MINI UK has played down the po­ten­tial to move into other forms of mo­tor­sport along­side its in­vest­ment in the Mini Chal­lenge.

Since its re­birth in 2001 as part of the BMW group, MINI has largely pur­sued a ral­ly­ing mar­ket­ing strat­egy, hav­ing backed projects in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship with Pro­drive and the Dakar en­durance rally, both us­ing the Coun­try­man model. The for­mer WRC chas­sis now com­pete in the FIA World Ral­lyx Cham­pi­onship with Bri­tish tuner JRM.

MINI UK head of prod­uct Nicolas Grieb­ner said that while the brand’s re­turn to back­ing UK race se­ries is one thing, a stand­alone project else­where was a way off. A Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship at­tack would be de­nied by the BTCC’S rules on car di­men­sions, which must be 4.4-me­tres or longer. The largest five-door MINI is 3.9m.

Grieb­ner said: “Our fo­cus is on sin­gle-make se­ries and mak­ing the Mini Chal­lenge one of the best se­ries in Europe. We now have a port­fo­lio of prod­ucts for dif­fer­ent cus­tomers and uses, but our plans fo­cus on strength­en­ing the vol­ume and aware­ness of our most iconic model, the three-door hatch­back [Cooper]. Mo­tor­sport will fo­cus on this.

“We’ve done the WRC and Dakar and ral­ly­cross, but those cars are more pro­to­type than pro­duc­tion and there are no plans for the fac­tory to go back to ral­ly­ing. I see our im­me­di­ate fu­ture in cir­cuit rac­ing.”

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