Great news. And a 2 for 1 announcement !! BMW has decided to enter factory-backed world rallying for the first time. To be fair, they have participated in the Dakar with X3/X5, and have indirectly provided support to dealer and privateer efforts over the years. However, the factory was always at arms length. I have previously mentioned the rallying exploits of my beloved 2002. Again, noble efforts by individuals or entities. So there have been dabbles and behind the scenes support, but now they step up front.
With a caveat….They are doing so via the Mini brand. A brilliant stroke on many fronts. First, it obviously returns a storied marque to a form of competition in which it was victorious albeit many moons ago. It immediately brings to mind Paddy Hopkirk and the famous red and white mini which won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964. Second, it can only help to revitalize the mini brand as it continues to introduce new variants. Third, racing improves the breed and gives credentials to sporting versions of the marque as has been introduced in concept cars recently. Good stuff.
Lastly, as a BMW fan and a big WRC fan, it adds to the brands participating in the sport, making up for a few departures. The field will be larger and more diverse. BMW knows what is is doing around motorsports, and will not languish at the back of the pack. It is also on the upswing in investments in motorsports with World Super Bike and now WRC. There may be a silver lining to their departure from Formula 1 after all…..