Mini has officially re-entered the World Rally Championship after a 10 year hiatus. They debuted their Countryman WRC at the Paris Motorshow and will be ready to compete in the 2011 season with a car driven by Kris Meeke.

However, the AWD Mini Countryman rally car will only be taking part in 6 out of 13, of the 2011 events as Prodrive founder David Richards says it's a 'preparatory year'. So by 2012, the retro racer will be able to compete for a full season.

Under the hood is a BMW Motorsport-tuned 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that uses direct injection and meets all FIA S2000 regulations (meaning the WRC is just the first of its many possible applications). Also, it's hooked up the an Xtrac 6-speed sequential transmission. What we do know is that Mini says the car has undergone a "baptism of fire" at the Prodrive rally track and has gained a Prodrive-developed roll cage.

BMW's Ian Robertson says:

"The Paris Motor Show is the perfect stage on which to launch our MINI WRC. The response to our announcement that MINI will return to the world of rallying next year was very positive. The FIA World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of rallying, making it the ideal platform for demonstrating the competitive spirit of our brand. The development of the car is running on schedule, and the preparations for the world championship are in full swing. The MINI Countryman production model provided the ideal basis for our new world championship challenger."