The MINI WRC Team has every reason to feel satisfied after day two of Rally Germany, as Dani Sordo (ES) and Carlos del Barrio (ES) are now third overall in their MINI John Cooper Works WRC number 37. While Kris Meeke (GB) and Paul Nagle (IR) in number 52 are still in fifth, they have had a far from easy day with a puncture on stage 13 and a broken rim on stage 14 causing them to lose over a minute on the leading cars.
Number 13 proved unlucky for not only Meeke, but also the man chasing him for fourth, Petter Solberg (NO). While Meeke came off the 15.23 kilometre stage 23.3 seconds behind the leader, Sébastien Loeb (FR), the Norwegian was even further behind with a loss of 31 seconds, also due to a puncture. The 34.18 kilometre final stage of the day on the Baumholder tank training ground also caused high drama for Loeb, as he became one of numerous drivers to suffer a puncture during the day and dropped to second behind his Citroen team-mate, Sébastien Ogier (FR).
Day two was held in extremely hot and sunny conditions, but there is a question mark over the weather for the final day as heavy thunder showers are forecast for late morning. The remaining crews have another five stages and 76.31 kilometres of competition which include the Power Stage of Circus Maximus back in Trier early in the afternoon.
Dave Wilcock, Technical Director:
“That has been a pretty good day as we started fourth and fifth and finished third and fifth. Dani has had a clean run through and set really quick times with Mikko Hirvonen. Then on the last stage he put in a blistering pace and finished within a couple of seconds of Sébastien Ogier and was second quickest. We were clearly faster than the Fords on that stage, and that was the one I really wanted to see where we really were with the others working perfectly. This is only our third rally and we know we can improve and from where we are now that is a really good benchmark. Kris had a fantastic day starting in fifth. Petter Solberg jumped him on the first stage this morning, but then had his problems, as did Kris including a little scare on the last stage of the day where he had a slow run through after sustaining a little bit of damage to a wheel. He is still just in front of Solberg. Tomorrow Kris has to keep his nose clean, and Dani has to consolidate third if he can as Hirvonen will come out charging. The target is to stay on the podium, as we like it there and don’t want to get off it.”
“Honestly we didn’t expect to be here in third on our first tarmac rally for the car. I am really happy with the car. We did some changes to the set-up and today the MINI was quite good and helped me do the good times. We will continue to do the same tomorrow and try to finish on the podium. We don’t have enough of a margin to feel safe, as you can have a puncture, you can spin or the weather may be bad. I am not going to start thinking about the podium, but just to try to drive well as we still have another day. The most important thing is we are still close to the opposition, and if we do modifications to the car for the future we are planning we can then be really close.”
“We have had a few wee problems, and we picked up another puncture on stage 13. Everyone seems to be hitting trouble. Dani and Sébastien Ogier are the only two in the top eight or nine who have not picked up a puncture, so it is proving to be a challenge. We were just a little bit unlucky in that sense. Then on the second run through Panzerplatte the car was a little bit nervous underbraking, it cut away from me and stopped very gently against a small stone, it broke the rim and we had a massive vibration for the rest of the stage. When we have had a clean run we have really been on the money, and have been able to be right up there with the times. We have not been consistent enough, but that will come as this is only my second ever start on a WRC event on tarmac. ”