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Motor Racing

Mini announce return to rallying

Mini has confirmed a comeback in the world of rallying from next year.

The announcement, made by owners BMW, will see Mini compete in selected rounds of the World Rally Championship in 2011 before completing the full series the following year.

BMW, who pulled out of Formula One last year due to the global economic crisis, are planning their involvement with Mini in the WRC for "several years".

The car used will be the Mini Countryman WRC that has been developed by the Banbury-based Prodrive organisation run by David Richards.

The Mini Cooper S became an iconic car in rallying in the 1960s, winning the prestigious Monte Carlo Rally on three occasions in 1964, 1965 and 1967, as well as the European Championship in '65.

As for Richards, he has a longstanding pedigree in rallying as he won three constructors' titles with Subaru in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

The late Colin McRae completed a double for Subaru in 1995 by winning the drivers' title, whilst Richard Burns and Petter Solberg added further drivers' championships in 2001 and 2003.

"This is a very exciting new motor sport programme," said Richards.

"During the 1960s Mini captured the imagination of the world when the tiny car took on the might of V8 powered Fords and won what was then one of the toughest motor sport events, the 4000km Monte Carlo Rally.

"I believe our new Mini will become a firm favourite of the latest generation of rally fans, just as it is adored by its millions of owners across the world."