At Rally Portugal this month the Prodrive WRC Team will introduce more than 100 modifications to improve the performance of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. The enhancements are being homologated under the FIA regulations and will be available to fit to all MINI WRCs.
Prodrive has been running a development programme on the MINI WRC since October last year, using data it has gathered from running its own cars and a further dozen customer MINIs in championships across Europe and the Middle East.
A major focus has been development of the 1.6 litre turbo engine, with a result that the newly homologated engine has a three per cent increase in peak power. To achieve this, Prodrive has redesigned the induction system with a new restrictor and restrictor feed, while the engine cooling system has been made more efficient, with the introduction of an electrically-operated water pump, which not only reduces parasitic losses, but enables the engine temperature to be more accurately controlled and in turn the knock control optimised. Without a belt-driven water pump the alternator has been moved and the whole area around the drive belt made more robust, with a shorter drive belt which is simpler to change. With all these modifications, the engine management system software and associated electronics have been upgraded with optimised fail safe modes and enhanced driver and co-driver in-car displays.
The only visual change to the MINI WRC is the front bumper, which has been remodelled using CFD to improve engine cooling and the car’s aerodynamic performance. The new front splitter design allows the car to run at lower ride heights on rough gravel surfaces, reducing airflow under the car and increasing front-end downforce.
Prodrive has worked with suspension partner, Ohlins, to improve the performance of its dampers on rough surfaces with the new units giving the car greater stability and traction while running on gravel. The team has also developed a heavy duty suspension package specifically for use on very rough events like Greece.