Return of the Maxi
'I'm pretty much identical to Maxi but so far I've competed only on gravel so I'm pretty excited, because here at Rally de España I'll test my skills on Tarmac as well. Atko and I were out together at Rally Italia Sardegna a couple of weeks ago and we clinched sixth place there. Rally d'Italia is known for being a demanding and challenging event so we were pleased with result.
'Now I'm ready for this new challenge but I'm also a bit scared as I've never tackled Tarmac before.
'But first things first. This morning we had Free Practice and the Qualifying Stage which was run on a mixed road here in Salou. I heard Chief Engineer Tomo talking with Atko about the importance of qualifying well here in Spain in order to choose a good road position as you don't want to be cleaning the roads on the gravel day.
'My friend Porquinho Verde is here too and it's always a good fun to be out on rallies with him. He tells the most hilarious stories about his driver Paulo and the adventures they have together on the stages.
'On Monday I had a baptism of fire on Tarmac at the team's test and it was amazing! Tarmac is so much fun, Maxi was right! :-) The speed is incredible and the feeling is unbelievable. Atko says that driving on the Tarmac stages here is very close to circuit racing! foto
'So tomorrow we'll have three gravel stages - repeated twice - totaling 150km and after that the boys will have one hour and fifteen minutes to change everything and prepare me and Porquinho Verde to compete on Tarmac on the two following days. We trust our mechanics 100% and I'm sure they will do a top job as always and we'll have an awesome time on the Tarmac.
'This will be Atko's first mixed WRC event as well so he's really focused and committed to do a good job. He was in Rally China ten days ago - where he won the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship - which was half Tarmac as well but more using the gravel set-up on the Tarmac stages.
'I won't be the only one having to adjust when we go from gravel to Tarmac. Atko's driving style will have to change as well. He'll be able to brake later, carry more speed in the corners and not slide too much.
'Our next commitment today is the Ceremonial Start in Barcelona following an autograph signing and group photo for Chris and Glenn. I can't wait - it will be awesome. I hear that the fans here are very keen and I'm sure tonight it will be a blast. :-)
'It'll be a pretty busy weekend for me so I'll pass the task of reporting about the next days of competition to someone else in the team. I really hoped you enjoy my column as much as I enjoyed writing it though! :-)
'Stay tuned for more action here in Spain!
'Maxi II (the MINI)'
Team MINI Portugal