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‘Hello again and if you’re still reading at this point in the week, yes I’m back with more insights into life in WRC Team MINI Portugal at Rally d’Italia.

‘Today’s been a mixed bag. Atko finished the day in fifth, which is undoubtedly great. If he holds the position it would mark the highest gravel finish from a MINI John Cooper Works Countryman WRC this season. Check him out!

‘However, things still aren’t quite right with his MINI. A damaged antiroll bar support spotted and changed at midday remote service in Sassari (more later) was originally found guilty. However, it was proven innocent when Atko’s problems persisted this afternoon.

‘Never to be defeated, everyone had their thinking caps firmly on as they awaited the crews return from the afternoon loop. And I have confidence in the boys. If there’s a solution to be found, they’ll find it. Watch out when they do, because Atko’s ready to tear up the gravel!

‘Even with mechanical problems, Atko’s done a great job so far this weekend. His reduced car control led to one spin on SS8 where the rear of his MINI clipped a hay bale and the car stalled before he retook to the stage. However, otherwise he’s driven pretty faultlessly. That’s something we’ve come to expect from our Aussie friend! I think it’s fair to say he’s hardly put a foot wrong since he first hopped into a MINI.

‘While many others fell by the wayside, Paulo successfully completed the day’s stages and was edging ever closer to that elusive Top 10 finish he’s been seeking all season. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. Radiator damage following a tough landing over a jump in the stage caused him to retire on the road section home. We’re now waiting for the car to return with the recovery vehicle to find out if Paulo will be able to restart tomorrow under the Rally 2 regulation.

‘And that’s it for now folks – another day, another challenge and let’s hope tomorrow’s an even better one! The only thing I’d like to mention before I sign off is the fantastic experience we had at Remote Service today. 6am in the Olbia Service Park this morning and it was raining pitifully. Off the boys went on their soft tyres and off we set to Sassari. Fast forward five hours to 26 degrees blistering heat in Sassari, tyres worn down to be almost treadless and hundreds of fans (mainly under 10 years old!) waiting to great the crews.

‘After a long and tiring morning loop, this was perfect to raise morale and put a smile on all the crews (and our) faces. So…a BIG thank you to everyone who came and please do stop by and see us in the Service Park if you make it down to Olbia over the weekend!

‘That’s enough from me. Buon appetito, buona serata, buon lavoro and anything else in between!

‘Bye for now,

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