Mini in WRC: From winner to whiner

Once again I’m faced with a difficult task – write about something I know very little about. And I know very little because company’s offices responsible for supplying of information failed. Mini’s recent PR stunt tried to explain what the future of once British now German brand in WRC will be. Instead they created massive “WTF is this all about” storm.

We knew some kind of trouble will go public today, but we never even considered this mumbo-jumbo created by BMW’s masterminds. If we got the bits and pieces right, BMW is pulling it’s plug from current Prodrive-run WRC team consisting of Dani Sordo and pay-to-drive driver. Instead, BMW will support another team consisting of two cars, but those two cars won’t be scoring WRC manufacturers points – those two crews are in it just for homologation purposes.

In some way I can understand Mini’s position and their press release. They are not obliged to explain their relationship with Prodrive and reasons why it failed, but to totally ignore current drivers and only few days before next WRC event is just bad and disrespectful.

If we got this mess right – Mini is using Armindo Araujo and Paolo Nobre as team only to be able to keep the car homologation in place and running of Prodrive’s privateer programme is of no concern to BMW. That means Dani Sordo i left with Prodrive, but only if FIA approves this switch of some kind. Mind you, this is how we translated crypted information coming from BMW and partly Prodrive (latter were more open to explainations though).

There are so many questions begging for answers, but one stands out: Did BMW underestimate costs of WRC programme before they hopped in? Were they hoping for outside sponsors to cover most expenses? Surely they didn’t expect to have factory badged team and go away cheap? Or did they.

No doubts this story will get more tails in coming days, but WRC suffered another heavy blow and all that in times when World Rally Championship is already on it’s knees.