Mini struggles with budget cuts ahead of Monte Carlo Rally

The 2012 World Rally Championship begins on Tuesday with a season-opening six-day rally around the hills of Monte Carlo.

It is the scene of Mini's greatest rallying success back in the 1960s, but 2012 is the first time the team has raced there in 44 years.

But ahead of the big race things have not been going so well for Banbury-based Mini, who will have two cars lining up in Monte Carlo.

Budget constraints may have curtailed Mini's ambitions, but it has not diminished any of its sense of history.

"We intended on competing in as many rounds of the World Championship as possible," team principal David Wilcock told BBC Oxford.

"But what has changed is securing sponsorship in order to make that happen."

But Monte Carlo holds good memories for Mini, with the Mini Cooper winning there three times in the 1960s.

Its first success was in 1964 with Buckinghamshire-based Paddy Hopkirk at the wheel of an Abingdon prepared car.

"The cars today are more highly technical machines, but if you look at the risks we had to take it is a completely different thing," Hopkirk told BBC Oxford.

So while the funding to take on the world is proving harder than ever, Mini will hope to contest the majority of rallies this year.

Wilcock added: "We are committed to the FIA to compete with two cars in a minimum of seven rounds.

"We will do our best to compete in the remaining races and we are still hoping to secure sponsorship to do that."

Top Stories