No new models from MINI at Paris, but there was something new sitting in their black pavilion – the MINI WRC. If you haven’t heard, MINI is making a comeback in the rallying scene and will join the World Rally Championship (WRC) for its 2011 season. The BMW owned brand has also announced Kris Meeke as one of its pilots. The British driver was champion in the Intercontinental Rally Championship (IRC) last year.

Based on the MINI Countryman, the MINI WRC was developed by Prodrive in accordance to the new FIA Super 2000 regulations. The permanent 4WD car is powered by a 1.6-litre direct injected petrol engine with a Garrett turbocharger (max boost 2.5 bar). Other parts include an Xtrac 6-speed sequential gearbox, AP Racing sintered twin plate clutch, plated limited slip diffs on both ends and Öhlins Macpherson strut suspension with 3-way adjustable dampers.

The 2011 WRC will see the new MINI challenger contesting six of the 13 scheduled rounds, before competing in the full 2012 season. Besides this official entry, Prodrive also plans to make available customer versions to independent teams.

“We aim to use 2011 as a preparatory year, amassing experience in order to ensure we are fully competitive from the start of the following season. But let’s not underestimate the task ahead of us nor the stiff competition we will face on the way, however our target is firmly set on winning the World Championship title again with MINI,” said Prodrive founder David Richards.

Live gallery after the jump.

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