Mini and Prodrive will announce a World Rally Championship programme this week, according to Autosport magazine in the UK.

"Mini's first-ever World Rally Car, which will be based on the Countryman road car, has been in preparation for months at Prodrive's Banbury base and the BMW 1.6-litre turbocharged engine recently arrived to turn a rolling shell into a full World Rally Car. Testing of the new machine is expected to begin soon and, as technical director David Lapworth said, once it starts testing it will not stop," Autosport reported.

"When we start testing on our rally car development programme, it will be intensive," said Lapworth. "We still have a good timescale to work towards for testing and we're happy with where we're at."

Autosport says that Prodrive has remained tight-lipped about any announcement this week, denying that it has anything planned. The British preparation firm has yet to even admit to any kind of agreement with BMW or Mini.

Norwegian driver Mads Ostberg is being tipped to do some of the early development driving - and to take one of the factory seats in next year's WRC programme. 

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