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‘Hello everyone or ‘Terve’ as the Finnish say, Here we are – Max Pelucchi and Marco Moreiras reporting live and exclusively for you from Neste Oil Rally Finland, one of the most exciting rounds of the WRC calendar. It’s great to be back in Jyväskylä. It’s a city where you can feel the authentic ‘rally spirit’ – the Finns love rallying and the atmosphere around here is great.

‘Rally Finland has a slightly different schedule compared to other events as the action finishes on Saturday – one day earlier compared to most of the other rounds. This means the whole team had to get here a day early to make sure we had everything ready for the Qualifying Stage today.

‘We got here on Saturday and as Finland is the first round after the summer break in the WRC it was nice to catch up with other team members who you don’t get the opportunity to see very often. We are a multi-cultural team, we come from different corners of Europe and normally we even have Cirillo – one of Paulo’s mechanics – flying in all the way from Brazil, but who couldn’t join us here in Finland. You can hear a lot of different languages spoken in the WRC Team MINI Portugal service area. Of course sometimes not speaking the same language makes thing more difficult, but we’re a team so we always try to help each other and we’ve all learnt some words in each other’s languages to make it as easy to communicate as possible.

‘After unpacking the trucks and setting the Service Area up, the action immediately started as we ran a test with Paulo on Saturday. Marco will tell you all about it in his section of the blog. Recce started on Monday and while the crews were out on the stages we worked on the MINIs to make sure they were ready for the big jumps!

‘We arrived in Helsinki on Saturday and after getting our MINI road cars from the local dealer we started our journey on the road to Jyväskylä. It’s a beautiful journey as the roads flow through the lakes. There are really a lot of lakes in this country – of course the rally used to be known as the ‘Rally of 1000 Lakes’!

‘As soon as we got to Jyväskylä we went straight to the Service Park to prepare the trucks and the car for Nobre’s test the next day. We only tested with Paulo as Armindo had no testing planned for this event. However he will do a four day test before ADAC Rallye Deutschland – the first Tarmac event of the season – in a few weeks.

‘Although I normally work on Armindo’s MINI, I was on duty on Paulo’s car for the test. He only did a few laps to make sure he was happy with the set-up for the event. We changed a few clicks and went for a slightly higher set-up for the second passage on the stages when the roads will be more worn.

‘After the test we went straight back to the Service Park to set up our big structure – we need an ‘army’ to build it! After a few events we’re now very efficient at this and it takes less and less time rally on rally. It’s a big job but it looks very nice when it’s done. It’s something we’re very proud of! 🙂

‘We then started to work on Armindo’s MINI which only needed a few final touches – we did most of the work in the workshop back in Italy. We fitted new shock absorbers, which will hopefully work well on the big jumps. We went through technical scrutineering this morning which went well – we had no problems at all. The MINI passed her ‘exam’ with flying colors! 🙂

‘Armindo did Rally Finland last year so he has some experience on these tough roads, but it will still be a tough job for him. I talked to him after recce and he found it much easier than last year knowing most of the stages. As always we’ll always do our best to provide his MINI with the best care possible and we’ll help Armindo in any way we can.

‘With this event being extremely difficult for our crews I think the aim is to ‘survive’ the fast and bumpy stages and bring the MINIs back home in one piece! We’ll give 100% to try to get the best result possible.

‘That’s all from my side, it’s Marco’s turn now to tell you all his story.’

‘My adventure at Rally Finland started with no luggage 😦 My suitcase got lost somewhere on the way from Lisbon to Helsinki and I only got it back yesterday – I had no clothes for a few days but luckily we all wear the same kit so it was easy to borrow some stuff from my colleagues while I waited for my own to arrive!

‘As mentioned before we got here on Saturday and as No.1 mechanic on Paulo’s car I immediately started to work with my colleagues on the MINI to get it ready for the Sunday test. We had a few problems on the test due to a damaged intercooler on the MINI, but we replaced it in time for free practice today. We also encountered some trouble with fuel pressure that we solved over the last couple of days by undergoing a full check of the fuel cell. This morning we prepared the car with the usual settings for the event and now we’re ready to go now 🙂

‘Rally Finland will be challenging for Paulo because these roads are very fast and tricky but I had a quick debrief with him after recce and he has a positive feeling. He likes the stages because they’re breathtaking and feel a little like a rollercoaster ride. My personal favorite stage is the legendary Ounipohja – a very long stage with big jumps that’ll take a really big effort and noone can afford to make any mistakes there.

‘It’s always fun working with Paulo – he’s a great character! He might not be the fastest driver but his attitude is wonderful. He’s always in a good mood and has a great sense of humor. We went to dinner together two nights ago and we talked a bit about the rally but also about our lives outside the rally. We’re all good friends in our MINI family, so we laugh, joke and share stories. It’s always nice to relax, talk about common friends experiences and reminisce. As we both did the Dakar in the past we have quite a lot to share.

‘After a long day working on the cars last night we went out to try some local cuisine – typical Finnish food. When I’m in a foreign country I always like to understand how things work and what the cultural differences are compared to Portugal – my home country.

‘I’m very excited, I’ll be going on the WRC stage with Paulo tonight when he choses his starting position for tomorrow. Each driver will introduce a couple of team members to the crowds. I’m really looking forward to hearing what he’ll say about me.and a little bit scared too! 😉

‘We’re now finishing our work for today and then we’ll go back to the hotel to get some sleep. The real action starts tomorrow and we’re really looking forward to starting and telling you all about the first day of competition here in Finland. It’ll be intense, but exciting!

Max and Marco

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