After a year in the World Rally Championship, the Prodrive-built Mini John Cooper Works rally car has won its first FIA international event in the first round of the 2012 Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).
Al Kuwari and his co-driving brother, Nasser Al-Kuwari took victory at the Qatar International Rally when they emerged victorious by a margin of 2m 24.9sec.
"It is a fantastic feeling to win this rally," said Al-Kuwari. "I've achieved success in national rallies in Qatar, but this was the big one. This was the rally I wanted to win. The new car was fantastic. This is the biggest win of my career."
Prodrive chairman, David Richards, said: "It is particularly fitting that the Mini's first international win has come in Qatar, as this was also Prodrive's first ever rally back in 1984, in the inaugural year of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship, when Saeed Al Hajri took victory in a Rothmans Porsche 911 SC RS. Saeed went on to win the Middle East Rally Championship that year; let's hope Abdulaziz can do the same."
The Mini Super Production Car (SPC) used in the rally is built to specification for regional rallies and is a derivative of the Mini Rally Car. The SPC cars are almost identical to WRC except they have a smaller engine restrictor (30mm versus 33mm) and smaller rear wing.