With day one of the Neste Oil Rally Finland completed the MINI WRC Team is just where it wanted to be with its two cars still running and no problems to report. This evening Dani Sordo (ES) and Carlos de Barrio (ES) returned to service in Jyväskylä, after 39.74 kilometres of competitive running on three stages, sixth overall in the number 37 MINI John Cooper Works WRC, while Kris Meeke (GB) and Paul Nagle (IR) were ninth in number 52.
From the first stage it was a matter of taking it easy on one of the World Rally Championship’s toughest and most unforgiving events. Sordo has competed in the event for the past few years, but Meeke has not been here for five years and never in a WRC car. The weather was hot and humid as this is the driest summer in Finland for 23 years, but rain is forecast overnight. This doesn’t worry either driver as it can act as a leveller on such specialist events.
Tomorrow from 08.00 the cars head south to compete on totally new stages in the area of Lahti. There will be another eight stages over 134.06 kilometres, and also a remote service before the cars head back to central Finland for the overnight halt just after 21.00.
Dave Wilcock, Technical Director:
“It is all going according to plan, with both cars functioning okay. Both drivers have done exactly what they were told to do, but I think they are both feeling the nerves as it is 12 weeks since we did Sardinia, so they are bound to be a bit rusty. It is quite useful having three stages and then a night to sleep on it. Both crews will benefit from it. Dani is really happy where he is and with the car. He is completely comfortable in all areas. We want to keep up with the others as there will be another game played tomorrow, and it will be nice to be in the hunt. Kris is doing exactly what he set out to do. He really needs to finish and get experience of all these stages. Looking at the tyre wear between all the other cars, we are as good, if not better than, the rest so with the longer loops tomorrow this could play into our hands a little bit. All the stages tomorrow are very loose and the guys are all doing them for the first time, so that will be a bit of a leveller. Let’s get to Lahti at lunch time tomorrow and go from there.”
“It was good today and I am really happy with these first three stages. The balance of the car was really good. It is really nice to drive these stages in the MINI, because it was very easy. We will see what happens tomorrow as we have some new stages. We had a very small problem with a communication between me and Carlos on the first stage, but that was not a problem at all.”
“My competitive spirit is a little bit dispirited as you have to take a step back on this rally to learn it. It was really fun to drive, we have a good rhythm and the car has a really nice balance which gives me confidence when driving. There were some places in the stages where I felt I could have driven quicker, but this is how we have to take this rally to learn for the future. It is just one of those rallies where you need experience, and you just can’t take chances.”