Press Report : Prodrive’s Richards says WRC MINI will be ‘sensational’

Steve English and Matt Beer, Autosport, 14th January, 2011

Prodrive boss David Richards thinks his company’s ‘no compromise’ approach with the MINI it has produced for this year’s World Rally Championship will prove extremely successful.

The company lost the Subaru works team deal following the Japanese company’s pull-out at the end of 2008 and chose to first design what Richards described as a “generic [WRC] car” and then find a suitable manufacturer with a product that fitted it, rather than seeking a new partner and then adapting one of their road car designs to WRC rules.

“When you go production car racing or rallying, you take the car, you look at the regulations and you adapt the car,” Richards explained on the main stage at AUTOSPORT International. “You inevitably go through compromises because the car is not quite right here and there.

Mini WRC“I said why don’t we flip the thing upside down and do it completely differently. Let’s design a car that would be the ultimate car by the regulations, then when we take the cars, every time you make a compromise you’ll know what level of compromise you’re having to make there and find ways round it.

“It’s actually proven to be a great way of producing a car. The car, the chassis, everything, it’s sensational.”

The works MINIs will be driven by ex-Citroen number two Dani Sordo and 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion Kris Meeke this season. Richards expects Sordo’s experience at Citroen to be invaluable to MINI.

“He’s got immediate relevance, information and knowledge of how the World Championship-winning teams been operating for last five years,” said Richards. “He will be a great contributor to the team.”

Richards also believes Meeke will prove that he was unfairly overlooked by WRC teams in the 2000s. The former Junior WRC regular revitalised his career by taking the IRC title with Peugeot UK.

“He’s a great driver, he’s to my mind never had the opportunities he’s deserved,” said Richards. “Colin McRae was his mentor which obviously has great affection within Prodrive as well.”

[Source: Autosport]

[Editor’s Note: Any AROnline readers wishing to watch the video of Prodrive Chairman David Richards’ on stage interview at AUTOSPORT International can do so by clicking on the link above.]

Clive Goldthorp

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

1 Comment

  1. Wow! Check out the Italian coachbuilder Castagna Milano’s website – there are some real MINI alternatives which include a fantastic marine-inspired variant called the MINI WoodyTender and an absolutely wacky pickup called the MINI CrossUp.

    I reckon that the MINI Wagon Nera is so wrong it is just right – I found it on Wickerpedia (sic)!

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