MINI Australia is eyeing the resurrected Australian Rally Championship with a view to entering a local team as early as 2012, according to

The news comes on the eve of the Anglo-German brand making its World Rally Championship debut in Italy next month. Underpinned by British performance operation, Prodrive, MINI will contest a limited number of WRC rounds in 2011 with a version of its Countryman compact SUV built to new S2000 rally regs, before embarking on a full program in 2012.

It is believed the local arm of the brand is in discussions with the organizers of the Australian title.

"I wouldn't rule anything out in the future, [but] we are a quite an early stage…. We believe there's good reason to be involved [in the ARC]," MINI/BMW spokesperson, Piers Scott told the Carsales Network.

"There are no meat on the bones at moment. It's not entirely a local decision," Scott stated. He said MINI Australia could follow "the international lead of observing" for a year or so and then getting involved.

Scott said the decision to exit the one-make MINI Challenge series and circuit racing locally was not predicated on the move to rallying.

"Obviously the arrival of the WRC Countryman has opened the door [to MINI's involvement in rallying]. I would make the point that this is not a shift in focus. [The exit from] Mini Challenge came down to the economical viability of the series and the change in the [television] coverage of the series. It doesn't have any bearing on us entering into rallying [in Australia].

"There's a degree of enthusiasm globally for the brand, and now it makes good marketing sense [to enter rallying locally]," Scott stated.
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