Araujo confirms MINI WRC campaign
"I will be with a satellite team but with support Prodrive"
Double Production Car world champion Armindo Araujo has confirmed his graduation to the World Rally Championship’s big league in a MINI WRC.
The Portuguese will start his campaign in a Prodrive-built Super 2000-version of the Countryman-based machine on Vodafone Rally de Portugal at the end of March before he switches to the higher-specification World Rally Car equivalent later in the season.
Araujo, who won the WRC.com Personality of the Year award for 2010, has been targeting a step up to a World Rally Car since capturing back-to-back PWRC titles on Wales Rally GB last November.
“It’s fantastic to be with a brand like MINI and in a car that is just being born,” said the 33-year-old. “I will be with a satellite team but with support Prodrive and will do the official tests. For example I am leaving my home in Portugal now to go to France for a test this weekend.”
Araujo played a key role in developing Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution X Group N challenger. He hopes to transfer some of those skills into honing the MINI WRC.
“Prodrive has opened the door to me and I will do everything I can to help [the official drivers] Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo get the MINI into a position where it can start to win races. I developed alone the Evo 10 with Ralliart Italy and did a very good job with that. I hope to do the same with MINI.”
Motorsport Italia will run Araujo’s car on eight, as yet unconfirmed, events in 2011. The team is an offshoot of Ralliart Italy, which oversaw Araujo’s hugely successful PWRC campaign. It will receive technical and engineering support from Prodrive.
Araujo, who also held discussions with the Ford-backed M-Sport organisation before committing to Prodrive and MINI, said he hoped it would be the start of a long-term partnership: “I have signed a contract for one year but my sponsors know that, as with the PWRC, I try to do for three years. We are not expecting to win in the beginning but the car is strong so hopefully we can get some podiums and wins next year.”
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