Prodrive race team to develop MINI rally engine

Prodrive’s team of race engine engineers is working with BMW Motorsport to enhance the performance of the MINI’s 1.6 litre turbo engine.

Prodrive’s race engine team, headed by chief engineer Jason Hill, has been responsible for developing the engines for every Aston Martin racing car in the last eight years, as well as units for the Le Mans-winning Ferrari 550 and the British Touring Car Championship-winning Ford Mondeo. This year, Hill’s team has also developed an engine for the 2013 Dakar Rally. He is working with BMW Motorsport’s engineers in Munich, who are developing the 1.6 turbo engine, which is used in both the MINI rally cars and BMW World Touring cars.

“The MINI unit is very strong and there is headroom to increase the output of the 1.6 litre engine,” said Hill. “We have refined the engine calibration, turbo control and transmission control strategies which have made better use of the hardware we have and are being implemented now, but in the longer term there will be a new evo pack in conjunction with BMW Motorsport, including a number of mechanical enhancements, which will bring a major step change in performance early next year.”

The engine is now the key area for development for the MINI John Cooper Works WRC, , according to Prodrive WRC Team principal, Dave Wilcock. He said: “We know the chassis is very good, our performance in low grip conditions has clearly demonstrated that. The aero also works well and the car is easy on its tyres and while we are continuing to refine these areas, it is a given that more power will automatically bring with it better stage times. We know there is much more to come from this engine; more than enough to give us the performance to put us at the head of the pack and give us the opportunity to win our first event.”

Wilcock added: “I worked with Jason for more than ten years in our race team and if there was one area we always had the edge in the Mondeo, Ferrari 550 and the Astons, it was with our engines. Events like Le Mans expose engine performance and Jason’s engines have won it three times.”