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Behind-the-scenes as Mini returns to WRC

  1. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Sebastian Loeb has won the Sardinian stage of the world rally championship. This is now such a regular occurrence, it barely counts as news any more.

    So the big talking point in Sardinia this weekend was actually the return of Mini to the WRC after several decades away (as evidenced by that dandy picture above of Kris Meeke airing out his underbody). The car maker had a decent run all the way back in the 60s, and this year has returned with a Prodrive-engineered Countryman John Cooper Works.

    Although Meeke had problems with his car throughout the weekend, Dani Sordo drove his Countryman to a not-bad-at-all 6th place finish on the car’s first outing. Click through the gallery for our pics as Loeb scored his second win of the season and 64th overall, and a really fast Countryman made its debut…

    (And if you want more WRC coverage, our dedicated section is right this way)

    Pics: Katie Johnson

  2. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Mini WRC driver Kris Meeke. Started well, ended badly

  3. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    The Mini Countryman was a perfect fit for Prodrive’s return to rallying

  4. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Mini WRC driver Dani Sordo. Started well, ended well

  5. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Red Cap misses Countryman’s cornering to snap rare big-headed turtle

  6. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Meeke’s Mini gets the South London treatment

  7. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    The original Mini Cooper, at the Monte Carlo Rally in 1965. It won.

  8. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Sordo goes through the jetwash, WRC style

  9. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Both Mini Countrymans sported classic numbers - 37 and 52 - used by the Monte Carlo winning cars of the 60s

  10. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Monster Prodrive brakes: handy for stopping/avoiding trees

  11. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    The Ford Abu Dhabi team rescue recalcitrant squirrels from Fiesta’s underbody. Probably

  12. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    A man with a hazard sign, yesterday

  13. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Czech Ford National’s Fiesta passes a stationary Evo. Yeah, us neither

  14. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Czech team driver Martin Prokop scored a respectable 10th place over the weekend

  15. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    While snappers wait for a peek of the rare Marsican Brown Bear, M-Sport Stobart’s RS Fiesta has a shower

  16. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    M-Sport driver Andersson finished 15th overall

  17. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Sebastian Loeb winning, yesterday

  18. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Sebastian Loeb after winning, yesterday

  19. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Countryman: good for rallying, great for scuba-diving

  20. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Shorts were a bad choice

  21. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    M-Sport Stobart’s Fiesta freshens the lake

  22. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Cheese sandwich pit stop was much needed…

  23. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    …as was, erm, this

  24. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Letting down tyres: frowned upon

  25. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Skoda Fabia S2000: dusty

  26. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    ‘Winning’ by Sebastian Loeb, part 1

  27. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    ‘Winning’, by Sebastian Loeb, part 2

  28. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Sardinia

  29. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    The other Countryman JCW, run by the Brazil World Rally Team

  30. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Solberg finished 3rd in his Fiesta RS

  31. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Look! This man’s cap is slowly eating his face!

  32. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    A helicopter. Useful for getting in the air

  33. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Motorsport Italia SRL’s Countryman JCW

  34. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Another M-Sport Stobart entrant, driven by Novikov and Prevot

  35. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Might be worth moving off the road soon…

  36. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    WRC drivers announce ‘sabbatical’ until Loeb retires

  37. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    Rally requirements: fuel, Twix and a Forest Fresh Magic Tree

  38. Rally d'Italia Sardegna

    [Sharp intake of breath] “it’s gonna cost ya’

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