One of the most influential men in motorsport and FIA Vice President for Sport, Mohammed Ben Sulayem (AE), has test driven the new MINI John Cooper Works WRC and declared the new generation of rally cars to be fun to drive.
The 14-time Middle East Rally champion, who has won more international rallies than any other driver in history, experienced the new generation of World Rally Car for the first time yesterday at Prodrive’s test track in Warwickshire. The Dubai resident, who turns 50 in November, is also President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the United Arab Emirates and is the official FIA and FIM representative overseeing all motorsport events in the UAE.
Mohammed Ben Sulayem spent 30 minutes familiarising himself with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC, but with his wealth of rallying experience was soon feeling at home driving around the 1.5 km adverse handling circuit.
“It’s the first time I have had a chance to drive a new World Rally Car. Now, without the clever diffs and with the smaller lower boosted engines, you have to work the cars much harder, making them much more fun to drive and more spectacular for the fans,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem.
The MINI John Cooper Works WRC made its competitive debut in May at Rally Italy in Sardinia, where Dani Sordo (ES) brought the leading car home in a very respectable sixth place. Sordo and Kris Meeke (GB) will return to the World Rally Championship from 28 to 30July, at the MINI WRC Team’s next outing in Finland. The team is only competing in six WRC events in 2011 in readiness for a full season in 2012.
The MINI John Cooper Works WRC has been developed by Prodrive based on the MINI Countryman. It is equipped with a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder Di turbo engine, which is also available in the MINI production models. The production engine was further developed by BMW Motorsport for the use in various categories according to FIA Super 2000 regulations. The power transmission takes place via an Xtrac 6-speed, sequential gearbox.

For its outings on the rally stages, the MINI Countryman chassis has been fitted with a roll cage developed by Prodrive, which exceeds the strict safety requirements of the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

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