Rally de Portugal
Double Practice Run On The Algarve
Long-term preparation in the run-up to the Rally de Portugal: Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo are already preparing for the 2012 season. Two private MINI teams are making their WRC debut.
Although Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo must wait until 5th May to join the current FIA WRC season, the two MINI WRC Team drivers are both on the Algarve for the Rally de Portugal, which takes place this weekend. For Kris and Dani, this is part of the long-term preparation for the 2012 season, when the MINI WRC Team will compete at every round of the World Championship.
Dani and Kris took part in the so-called "Recce", which allowed them to drive the course on the Algarve twice in order to familiarise themselves with the features of the track. In just over a year's time they will finally get to take on the course under race conditions. "We are gaining experience wherever we can," says Kris. "Our goal is to close the gap to the other teams as quickly as possible."
Whilst on the Algarve, Kris and Dani made a point of meeting the two private teams lining up in the WRC this year. Dani stayed on an extra day to wish drivers Armindo Araujo and Daniel Oliveira all the best.
Araujo, who joins rallying's elite class as the reigning P-WRC champion and will drive a MINI John Cooper Works S2000 for Motorsport Italia in Portugal, is primarily looking to gain experience in his first WRC season. "I'm not nervous," says the Portuguese driver ahead of his home debut. "However, everything is faster and, therefore, a bit more difficult in the WRC."
Araujo has tested his car both on tarmac and on gravel. His summary: "I am very happy with the MINI S2000. The engine feels great and the chassis set-up is excellent. We just need a little more fine-tuning."
Daniel Oliveira lines up for the Brazil World Rally Team as the second MINI privateer in Portugal. The Brazilian is only in his second season behind the wheel of a rally car, having competed in the 2010 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC). For his WRC debut, Oliveira has local support on his side in the form of co-driver Carlos Magalhaes. Oliveira: "Carlos comes from this region and knows the course inside out. That helps me a lot and gives me confidence."
Equipped with high-performance cars and the backing of the entire MINI WRC Team , Araujo and Oliveira are hoping for a great WRC debut. Should the private teams taste success in Portugal, you can be certain that Kris and Dani will be among the first in a long line of people offering their congratulations.
-source: mini motorsport