Meeke left on the sidelines by budget shortfall

Kris Meeke is unsure when he will make his next appearance in the World Rally Championship amid the financial woes currently engulfing the factory MINI team.

The Northern Irish driver had been expected to line up alongside Spaniard Dani Sordo on all 13 rounds of this year’s WRC, but a lack of funding means that he’s lost his seat at the Prodrive-run squad until more sponsorship is found.

MINI, meanwhile, has yet to confirm Sordo’s schedule beyond the first two events of 2012 and could even undertake a partial campaign as it uses its restricted resources to test and homologate a new air intake and engine tweaks instead.

Although Meeke is under contract to MINI until the end of 2013, he is only expected to undertake limited testing and promotional appearances until the budgetary situation is resolved.

Young Corsican Pierre Campana took his place on the Monte Carlo Rally in January, while former Junior World Rally Champion Patrik Sandell has been nominated as Sordo’s team-mate for Rally Sweden in February.

With MINI owner BMW’s initial commitment limited to funding homologation and preliminary engine and chassis development, the running budget is Prodrive’s responsibility and is dependent on the British firm selling customer versions of its John Cooper Works WRC and attracting commercial backers.

A title sponsor slipped from Prodrive’s grasp last summer and while company chairman David Richards has spoken of alternative investors, none have come to the table offering the required millions.