Major MINI tweaks planned
Prodrive set to introduce more than 100 changes
The MINI John Cooper Works WRC will be vastly modified on Vodafone Rally de Portugal later this month.
Prodrive, the engineering firm behind the machine, which has claimed three podium finishes in the World Rally Championship since its debut last May, has made more than 100 changes to further enhance its performance.
They are currently being homologated by the FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, and will be available to all MINI World Rally Cars from Portugal onwards. The modifications follow an extensive development programme using data accumulated by Prodrive and from various customers.
Save for a new front bumper, which has been redesigned to improve engine cooling and aerodynamic performance, there are no visual changes to the car. Instead the major changes have occurred under the bonnet with the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine receiving a three per cent power increase courtesy of redesigned induction and cooling systems and an upgraded engine management system.
Elsewhere, it is hoped the car’s enhanced suspension, developed in conjunction with technical partner Ohlins, will provide greater stability and traction on gravel, while a heavy duty suspension package for rough events like the Acropolis Rally has also been completed.
The car’s base weight has been cut by 10 kilograms through the fitting of a lithium-ion battery and a carbon fibre rear wing.
Following a four-day test in southern Spain last week, conducted by Prodrive WRC Team drivers Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo, team principal Dave Wilcock said: “Both drivers were really pleased with the developments and could feel the increase in performance both directly from the engine and in the dynamic behaviour of the car over the rough stages. This is a significant step forward for the MINI WRC, but our development work hasn’t stopped and the engineering team are already looking at the next set of improvements for later this year.”
Sordo and Patrik Sandell will pilot Prodrive WRC Team’s MINI John Cooper Works WRCs in Portugal. Meeke’s programme of events for 2012 is currently unconfirmed.
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