Press Report : MINI reveals undisguised Countryman S2000 in Monte Carlo
David Evans, Rallies Editor, Autosport, 2nd February, 2011
MINI has released the first pictures of the MINI S2000, complete with the new bodywork.
The Countryman-based rally car was present in Monaco at the end of the Monte Carlo Historic Rally, where former Monte winner Rauno Aaltonen had driven an original Cooper S to 109th place.
Aaltonnen and his then BMC team-mate and fellow Monte winner Paddy Hopkirk were joined harbourside by MINI newboys Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo, where the Cooper S and Countryman S2000 sat alongside each other.
The bodywork on the S2000 car features revised front and rear aerodynamics, but these are not the final wings which are expected to be seen on the World Rally Car when it makes its debut in May on Rally d’Italia.
The MINI present in Monte Carlo is likely to make its S2000 debut in the hands of Daniel Oliveira on the Rally of Portugal in March.
Hopkirk said: “It is very interesting to be here and I was delighted to see Rauno looking so well and the car looking so good. It is just great to see it all being revived. When we won it was not just motorsport news, but front-page news and I even got a telegram from the Beatles and the Prime Minister and I was given the keys to Belfast. I do admire the talents of these guys. Kris took me around the Prodrive test track in the MINI WRC and it was absolutely fantastic.”
Meeke added: “It is great for Dani and me to be competing for MINI and taking up that legendary spirit. Everything is going extremely well and I think the fundamental DNA of the car is very, very good. At this early stage of the development everyone is really excited as it seems to be hitting all the targets that were set out in the development phase.”
Sordo, who recently joined MINI from Citroen, concluded: “I have driven the car less than Kris but I have been on both tarmac and gravel. Honestly the feel of the car was really good. We still need to improve in certain areas, but this is normal because the car is new.
“Our MINI is new to rallying but in Prodrive we have a lot of experience and they have achieved many things in the sport. Kris and I will try to do the best we can. At the moment the car is really good and getting better and better.”
MINI has also announced that it will formally launch its MINI WRC team at Cowley, Oxford on the 13th April, 2011.