The MINI WRC team was forced to bow out of Rally Finland, marking the second straight WRC event that MINI has been forced to leave prematurely.
The WRC Countryman experienced radiator blockage from dust and gravel, which resulted in the vehicle overheating. The MINI WRC Team is now in the process of addressing these issues and is building two new cars for their next WRC event – Rally Germany. Despite the frustrating setback, both Sordo and Meeke raced competitively while on the track, finishing day two in 7th and 8th place, respectively. Both drivers who have had limited race appearances this year, spoke about the learning curve that comes into play when tackling Finland:
Sordo: “It was not bad, but we were waiting for a little bit more – not from the car but from me to be a little bit faster and more confident. It is always very difficult here in Finland…”
Meeke: “It was good to get very nearly a full rally distance under our belts, as it has been a long time since we have done a full rally. I began to really get in the groove yesterday and start to really understand the car in rally conditions”
Just how valuable is experience? On Special Stage 9 (the longest of Rally Finland) both Sordo and Meeke improved their time by over 20 seconds, affirming the value of experience in WRC competition.
As Dave Wilcock, MINI WRC Team Director said:
"We learnt an awful lot. The drivers have got more out of it than we expected. You have to remember our competitors have done seven gravel rallies, so they are completely ready and in the groove. They are used to fighting for a tenth of a second here and there and our guys have not done anything for so long. It is 12 weeks since Sardinia and it is the latter half of 2010 since either of them competed competitively so, yes, we have reached our goal."
From the outset, MINI had planned to use this years WRC events as a training ground for future competition. The make sure their car and team are up to WRC standards, and it appears that they are.
What’s next for the WRC Team? The MINI Crew will be switching surfaces from gravel to tarmac as they prepare for Rally Germany on August 18th. The layover between events will be much shorter than the previous 2-month gap that separated Rally Sardegna and Rally Finland. Sordo and Meeke will be warming up for the competition with the Richard Burns Memorial Rally, also a tarmac course.
Stay tuned to our blog for more updates! [email protected]
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