Satisfied looks were evident on the faces of the WRC Team MINI Portugal’s Armindo Araujo and co-driver Miguel Ramalho after the opening day of the Rally Argentina. Armindo had targeted a top ten placing on his debut in the South American round of the FIA WRC. After approximately 40 per cent of the rally’s timed stages run, he lies ninth overall after a trouble-free day, and is thus on course to achieve his target. "The start of this rally was not easy, so for today we tried not to make any mistakes in the stage and it went well. I’m quite happy,” was Armindo’s summary on Friday evening. He is the best-placed driver of a MINI John Cooper Works WRC in Argentina.
The field now has 198 stage kilometres spread over five special stages behind its back after the first official day of the event, and not all crews had the sort of trouble-free run enjoyed by Armindo and his MINI WRC. Ott Tanak tumbled down the order to the lower reaches from fourth place after experiencing mechanical issues. Evgeny Novikov, who started fifth, was forced to end his day’s work after the third stage with a damaged right rear wheel. Even those immediately behind the leaders dropped time after the unforgiving gravel stages forced them into unscheduled stops. Not only Petter Solberg, Mikko Hirvonen and Thierry Neuville were thus affected, but also world champion Sébastien Loeb, who was only able to assume the lead on the fifth stage.
Unfortunately the second MINI WRC driver Paulo Nobre was unable to avoid problems, being forced to retire after the third stage with suspension issues. However, the WRC Team MINI Portugal is optimistic that Paulo’s car will be repaired in time for Saturday. Eliseo Salazar, driving the third MINI WRC, enjoyed the first WRC leg of his motorsport career. Thanks to a consistent run he was able to move up from 24th
place to 16th
overall. “We had a lot of fun,” said Eliseo, who made motorsport history by becoming the first driver to contest the Monaco Grand Prix, the Le Mans 24 Hour, the Indianapolis 500, the Dakar Rally and a round of the WEC. “It was quite muddy at the end but the first part was fast. I could do this if I was 25 years younger," the 57-year-old veteran added.
Saturday sees the Rally Argentina continue, with the next seven stages being on the schedule. Exactly 166,54 competitive kilometres, which take the field from the north of Córdoba to the south of the provincial capital, face the crews. The first three stages will each be run twice, with Rally Argentina’s second Super Special Stage bringing the day to a close. This will again be run in Villa Carlos Paz, scene of the Service Park and Thursday evening’s ceremonial start.
While the first two stages are of similar length (20 kilometres) and character (little elevation change between start and finish), the ninth and twelfth stages are contested at an altitude of over 1200 metres. Within the greater Córdoba region only the so-called "Cerro Pan de Azúcar" (Sugar Hat) is higher at 1290 metres above sea level. At 39,74 kilometres long, these stages resemble those run on Friday, as do the stage surfaces – 100 per cent gravel. The start of the seventh stage (San Augustin-Santa Rosa 1) is scheduled for 08:30 local time (13:30 CEST).
After a difficult start to the second day of the Rally Spain, Dani Sordo delivers a spectacular show for his fans with the MINI WRC.
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On the first day in Spain all teams fought off difficult weather conditions and challenging stages. While virtually every stage was marked by retirements, one MINI WRC driver kept his nerve.
Ultimate cornering, breathtaking acceleration.
Qualifying stage, autograph session, media conference, starting order draw and ceremonial start: The preliminaries for the Rallye Spain are over; all five MINI WRC Crews are raring to start the WRC finale.
A car built for victory. The MINI John Cooper Works Challenge races across the track at 240 km/h.
Experience MINI John Cooper Works.