Brazil World Rally Team press release
Tough first day for Oliveira amid rain-chaos in Rally Australia
The Brazilian driver went off the road and damaged the front of his MINI JCW in treacherous conditions
Rally Australia welcomed Daniel Oliveira and Carlos Magalhaes with more rain after yesterday’s prologue in Coffs Harbour’s Super Special, base for this 10th round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
It wasn’t an easy start since the drivers found some damp areas along the road and which they had to tackle using Michelin hard compound gravel tyres when the recce had been done using dry and dusty roads. The slippery conditions made the grip levels change constantly from the very beginning of the day and that brought about some difficulties to the BWRT crew members on their first approach to this event.
Daniel found himself rapidly in trouble after spinning on SS3, Shipmans (29.03km), the longest stage of the day, where other drivers also spun or lost valuable time. The Brazilian driver managed to complete the first stage, albeit he lost more than two minutes over the rally leaders.
Coming into SS4 it started to rain even more but Daniel was able to build up the speed and clear safely that stage and the next one to bring his MINI John Cooper Works WRC back to the Service Park in Coffs Harbour 13th overall positions.
For the afternoon’s stages the drivers faced the trickiest conditions they have ever experienced according to some quotes especially at the end of SS6, the second pass through the Shipmans stage.
There Daniel and Carlos slid off the road and damaged the front part of the car resulting in a small hole in the radiator. He drove carefully to the end of SS6 to preserve the engine and tried to fix it but after speaking to his PRODRIVE engineer decided to stop and continue tomorrow.
“It’s been a tough day especially because of the slippery conditions. It was practically impossible to find grip with the hard compound tyres and the car slid all the time. On SS6 we went off the road and damaged the front part of the MINI and the radiator. We managed to finish the stage but we decided to stop so as not to damage the engine. Tomorrow we will super rally and try to gain more kilometres in this new experience for us”.
The show will go on.
BWRT mechanics and engineers worked at the Service Park to repair the damages on the car and Daniel will re-join the event under Super Rally system. Rally Australia continues tomorrow with the second leg which will be the longest one with 158.84 of competitive kilometres. The action will head south to the Nambucca and Bellingen shires where the drivers must tackle identical loops of four stages each with another two runs through the Coffs Harbour tarmac test.
Ahead of the field.
The slippery conditions brought too much excitement for the opening leg. The Championship leader Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) rolled his car on SS4 whereas his team-mate Sebastien Ogier (Cietroen) crashed on SS6. Also, Ken Block (Ford), Petter Van Merksteijn (Citroen) and Evgeny Novikov (Citroen) dropped out of the competition on Day 1.
Two times winner on this event Mikko Hirvonen (Ford) inherited the lead and came to the end of the day and took advantage over his fellow Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) by 0.7s. Petter Solberg (Citroen) comes in third position 44.3s adrift.