The MINI WRC Team is now heading home for Wales Rally GB and the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The UK’s forest stages are famous worldwide and an event including them has been part of the WRC since its inception in 1973. Not only is the team based in the UK, but this is also a home event for Kris Meeke (GB) and Paul Nagle (IR) in their MINI John Cooper Works WRC. Meanwhile for their team-mates, Dani Sordo (ES) and Carlos del Barrio (ES), Wales has proved a happy hunting ground in the past.
Meeke made his WRC debut in Wales back in 2005 and then his last visit to the event was in 2006. Sordo has considerably more experience here, as he has competed on the event every year since 2006 and in 2008 and 2009 was on the podium. Even though this is only the sixth WRC event for the team, the results have exceeded expectations with two podiums and several fastest stage times. This week both drivers have been testing at Walters Arena in South Wales in preparation for the event.
At Rally GB, Bosch is partnering the team as it celebrates its 125th anniversary. The MINI John Cooper Works WRC features several key Bosch components, including the engine’s high pressure direct injection fuelling system; the throttle body; and numerous pressure and temperature sensors around the car. Both the sophisticated high pressure fuel pump and throttle are standard road car parts.
David Richards, Team Principal: “We have already enjoyed a far better year than anyone could ever have expected but as our focus over the last few months has been on tarmac development, another podium result would be a surprise finish to a year that has far exceeded everyone’s expectation. Yet, I’m certain that both drivers are looking forward to a strong performance on the MINI WRC Team’s British debut in front of our home fans.”
Dani Sordo (MINI John Cooper Works WRC No 37):
“I like the rally a lot even though it is really difficult. It is usually wet and so the roads are very muddy. Even though I do remember some good weather, there is still the mud. There are a lot of new stages for me so it will be difficult to get the pace notes right, but this is something I shall work on with Carlos. The car should be okay there. We have done some testing which has been good, so I am happy going into the event.”
Kris Meeke (MINI John Cooper Works WRC No 52):
"Without a rally in Ireland, this is as near to a home event as it gets for me. I did my first ever rally in Wales and grew up doing British championships, so feel very much at home there as it is terrain I felt quite comfortable on. We have to keep our expectations in check, even though I am sure we will have a lot of local support. The good thing is we have a level playing field in Wales, as there are lots of new stages this year and they are even new for the championship regulars. The conditions should be consistent for everyone and this will allow us to assess our car on the event. I would certainly like to finish the season on a high.”
Robert Bosch UK President Peter Fouquet:
“Bosch Original Equipment, Bosch Motorsport and Bosch Engineering are delighted to be celebrating the Bosch 125th anniversary with its BMW/MINI customer at Rally GB. The company has been a long time supplier of technology, components and systems to BMW at its Hamms Hall engine plant and the MINI production facility in Oxford. The rally will provide Bosch engineers with an opportunity to gain direct customer feedback on components driven under such testing conditions."
History and Background:
While the names Clocaenog, Gartheiniog, Dyfi and Myherin may not be the easiest to pronounce for anyone who is not Welsh, they are names that are synonymous with rallying in Wales and therefore well known. However, while some of the famous stages are included in the route of this year’s rally, there are many new ones.
It was in 2000 that this event, previously known as the RAC Rally which visited England, Scotland and Wales, was confined to just the Welsh stages. The one thing that is predictable about the event is that the weather in Wales in November is far from predictable. The competitors could face conditions that range from warm autumnal sunshine to snow and ice, or anything in between.
The rally goes the length and breadth of the country, as the Rally HQ is in Cardiff right down south, the permanent service park is in the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells in mid-Wales, and the start and first stage around the Great Orme are in Llandudno in the north.
The start on Thursday in Llandudno is at 14.30. The crews then complete three stages over 25.25 kilometres before returning to this seaside town for an overnight halt, with the first car due in parc fermé at 18.55. On Friday the first car out of parc fermé is at 05.30. The crews will then complete four stages before arriving for service in Builth Wells at 12.00. In the afternoon there are another four stages before another service halt and then the journey to Cardiff, where the first car is due at 20.47 after 142.87 kilometres of stages. Day three starts from Cardiff at 06.00. The cars then head to Builth Wells for service, and during the day complete another six stages and 128.06 kilometres of stages before arriving back at Cardiff at 19.16. For the final day the first car leaves Cardiff at 04.55 and there are another six stages and 84.04 kilometres of competition, including Monument which is the 4.36 kilometre Power Stage at 12.11. After the final service in Builth Wells the first car is due back in Cardiff at 14.52. In total there are 354.97 kilometres of stages in a total distance of 1860.60 kilometres.