What started in confusion ends up in even more confusion, but fear not, this is how the world works these days. At first we had Mini’s cryptic press release, announcing Armindo Araujo and Paulo Nobre as new factory drivers with former privateer team run by Motorsport Italia promoted to factory status. No mentions of Dani Sordo. And we won’t even touch Kris Meeke topic, as soon as he did his part as British driver for Mini PR stunts he was out of the picture.
Then came more releases from Prodrive, promising full support to Dani Sordo. British company aims to remain part of World Rally Championship this year. That’s good news, right? What was still unclear was the exact role of Prodrive in WRC, but that was later explained.
So, what we have now is this – BMW decided to sever it’s ties with Prodrive and elected former privateer team to be manufacturer team BUT this new team will NOT be able to score points and serves only to keep Mini homologation happy. At the same time, as Autosport.com reported, Prodrive will continue developing Mini’s WRC machine and supply privateer teams.
This is where things get more interesting. Apparently, Mini cannot ditch Prodrive completely because British company owns intellectual rights to some components of Mini’s WRC car. So they keep them as some kind of outsourced developer and if we’re not completely off the charts here this situation resembles the one between Ford and M-Sport.
In the end in comes Prodrive’s chief David Richards saying he is happy with how things worked out. As expected. But, even now we don’t have complete picture! As Richards said in his statement reported by Autosport.com: “We will still be working very closely with them on the test programme for the car and, in fact, the development of the car will be enhanced by this news for reasons which will soon become clear. There will be more resource for the development of the Mini, which will further improve the performance of the car in the future.”
If by “resources” Richards means “money” does it mean Prodrive secured some sponsorship? Or will BMW do the unthinkable and shell out some cash? Does it mean FIA will become official sponsor of new team? With Eurovision song contest being the new main media promoter? So many questions…
Seriously, if this is how Mini and BMW go about their PR business and image building, then they’re way off the marks. Get two drivers, two cars, capable team and do some rallying! Everything else you can keep for your DTM adventures for all we care. :)