MINI WRC Team Launch, Oxford, 11 April 2011. Driving session with Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle (04/11).

BMW has announced that it will pull out of direct involvement in the World Rally Championship at the end of the 2012 season - but that doesn't mean there won't be any Minis in top-level rallying in the future.

Mini brand manager Dr Kay Segler said: “By the end of the season WRC Team Mini Portugal will have competed in every rally in 2012 - and that will give us WRC homologation for the Mini John Cooper Works, which will allow privateers to run them in WRC on a customer rallying basis.


“BMW Motorsport will continue to further develop the 1.6-litre turbo engine in conjunction with Prodrive, to ensure that Mini enthusiasts can participate in rallying, because we would to see the Mini John Cooper Works WRC continue to run competitively in WRC and other championships.”

Prodrive, he said, would still be able run, upgrade and even build and sell new Mini rally cars, with help from BMW Motorsport.

The Mini John Cooper Works WRC was introduced in 2011 and has taken three podium positions, and many top-10 positions, most notably Dani Sordo's second-place finish in the Mini's comeback run at the Monte Carlo rally in January 2012 - especially as the original Mini laid the foundation of its unique motorsport heritage with three wins at Monte Carlo - in 1964, 1965 and 1967.