MINI's return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) is inching closer as Prodrive has completed the first round of testing on a specially-prepared Countryman.

MINI's return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) is inching closer as Prodrive has completed the first round of testing on a specially-prepared Countryman.

The initial shakedown focused on tarmac performance, but future tests will be conducted on gravel. According to David Lapworth, Prodrive's technical director, "As with any totally new car, it is vital to take time to ensure all the systems are working as intended before embarking on a weeklong gravel test."

Set to debut next year, the Countryman WRC is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. While specifications haven't been released, the BMW Motorsport engine is fully compliant with FIA Super2000 regulations.

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MINI Countryman WRC Undergoing Testing