Salou, 22nd October, 2011. As the cars returned to the Spanish coastal resort for the end of day two of Rally RACC – Rally of Spain the MINI WRC Team cars of Dani Sordo (ES) and Carlos del Barrio (ES) and Kris Meeke (GB) and Paul Nagle (IR) were lying fourth and sixth respectively. It had been a day when the Citroen of Sébastien Ogier (FR) lost time with a puncture and dropped behind Sordo, while the Spaniard chased after the third placed Ford of Mikko Hirvonen (FI) and set the fastest time on stage 11 in the process. Meeke was again in new territory, but remained on the pace of the front runners while learning the stages without taking unnecessary risks.
The drivers were more than happy to leave the dramas of dust and darkness behind them on day one, for the all tarmac stages of day two. In hot and sunny conditions they completed another 142.54 kilometres over six stages without any major mishaps to the top crews. The biggest test of the day was on the 45.97 kilometre El Priorat stage that, along with the other stages, was run twice, but while Riba-roja d’Ebre and Punta de les Torres at 12.27 kilometres and 13.53 kilometres respectively were much shorter, they were both completely new to all the competitors. Tomorrow they have the final six stages and 102.62 kilometres of competition before an early afternoon finish.
Dave Wilcock, Technical Director:
“Generally it has been a good day for us. It was the first day of Tarmac and Dani set off with the intention of catching Mikko Hirvonen. On the first loop of stages it was all looking good and he managed to pull 22 seconds back from him, and the target was to do the same in the afternoon. We nearly had a stage win on the second stage of the morning, and then we finally got it on the second one of the afternoon, so we are very happy with that. We were disappointed to drop some time to Mikko at the end of the day, and it now puts pressure on Dani to pull back 0.37seconds per kilometre on the remaining stages going into tomorrow. As for Kris, he has been neat and tidy and shown he is developing very well. Comparing his times to Mikko, we are very, very pleased with his pace. Clearly he is doing a good job, the obvious intention is to get him to the end of the rally and he is very much focused on that. It’s a big day tomorrow so let’s see what happens.”
Dani Sordo (MINI John Cooper Works WRC No 37):
“It has been a really good day, there have been no problems and I am very happy to have a fastest stage time. The battle with Mikko for the podium is very tough, as he is a bit far away in terms of times and the gap is now 37 seconds. However, my plans for the final day are to push Mikko really hard and fight him for the podium. It would be really nice to be on the podium here on my home rally, but I am realistic about what I have to do.”
Kris Meeke (MINI John Cooper Works WRC No 52):
"I can’t complain at all about today. Probably the most important thing for me is the times relative to the top guys got a lot better on the second pass through the stages, so I am very happy about that. I wasn’t trying any harder, but it just shows how it comes together when you subconsciously learn the roads. The Michelin tyres were mega consistent, particularly on the long 46 kilometre one, and on the tarmac there was maximum grip."