Double Production Car World Rally champion Armindo Araujo will step up to the top class of the World Rally Championship this season with Mini. The Portuguese will begin his eight-round campaign at home in Faro, where he will drive a S2000-specification Mini, complete with the recently announced 30mm-restricted turbo-charged 1.6-liter engine.
He is only likely to be in the less powerful Mini for one event, however, as the next European WRC round is Rally d'Italia in May, where the full World Rally Car is expected to be launched and as soon as that is ready, his car will be converted to a Mini WRC.
Araujo is best known for his exploits in Group N Mitsubishis, but he has competed in a WRC before, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer WRC on Rally of Portugal in 2007, when he went off the road on what was only his third world championship event. He is expected to test the Mini WRC for the first time this weekend, when he joins factory drivers Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke for some gravel running in the south of France.
"We have been talking to Armindo about a drive in the Mini for some time and it is great news that he has now confirmed his program," said Graham Prew, Prodrive motorsport sales manager. "He has proved just how fast he is in the PWRC with two consecutive titles. Now in the new Mini, he will be able to pitch himself directly against the best rally drivers in the world."
Araujo is the second driver to secure a customer Mini, after former Intercontinental Rally Challenge regular Daniel Oliveira.