Mini announced its intentions to re-enter the World Rally Championship earlier this year with a car based on the new Countryman SUV. It seems the British firm may not be the only WRC re-entry, as Saab may rejoin the ranks of rallying in 2012.
The last time Saab made an appearance on a World Rally stage was back in 1979 with a 99 Turbo. Since then, the company has strayed from motorsports involvement. Inside sources at the now-Swedish/Dutch automaker indicate that Saab is planning a return to the WRC stage in 2012 and has already met with the FIA, the WRC’s governing body, about its entry.
“The initial meeting [between Saab and WRC officials] has happened and there’s a huge amount of enthusiasm from all concerned,” an inside source told Autosport. “Like Mini, Saab has a great heritage in the sport and a return to the WRC makes a lot of sense.”
According to the sources, the FIA and Saab are expected to enter the next round of meetings at the French Rally in October.
If Saab does re-enter the WRC in 2012, it will be with a car based on the upcoming 9-1 or 9-2. Interestingly, Saab is reportedly working with BMW for underpinnings for a planned small car, which could potentially use a Mini platform and engines. When the car enters the WRC, it could use the same 1.6-liter turbocharged I-4 as Mini’s Countryman entry.
What do you think? Do you think it’s a worthwhile endeavor for Saab, a company that narrowly escaped liquidation last year, to re-enter the World Rally Championship?