Rally Portugal has many facets. On the afternoon of the first day, crowds of spectators gathered at the short 3,27 kilometre Super Special Stage which cuts through the heart of Portugal’s capital city. Well over 30,000 fans frenetically cheered the competitors – in particular local hero Armindo Araujo of the WRC Team MINI Portugal – as they faced the challenging asphalt stage under bright sunshine.
Less than five hours the glitz and glamour of rally’s start had given way to grime for more than a few participants. Rain showers in place of sunshine and rough gravel in place of smooth asphalt challenged the crews to the utmost. Rally Portugal is not without good reason considered to be one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar. Martin Prokop struggled with engine problems, Mads Ostberg picked up a puncture and world champion Sébastien Loeb went off the road and so severely damaged his car that he had to retire for good.
Armindo Araujo and Dani Sordo did not escape unscathed either. After promising performances in the Super Special Stage delivered places seven and six respectively, Dani struggled to the finish of the second stage with just a single functioning spotlight. Armindo went off the road after the split on the same stage. Fortunately, though, his MINI WRC remained largely undamaged, enabling him to continue. However, both drivers lost places in the overall order, with the Prodrive WRC Team electing to withdraw Dani before the third stage. However Dani will be back in action on Friday.
"It was a difficult start to the rally," said Armindo after the day’s fourth and final stage. Armindo had been hopeful of delivering a strong performance in front of his home fans, and did not let the mishap get him down. By the end of the day he was again in a combative mood: “Tomorrow is another day, and I will again give of my best,” he promised. With Jari-Matti Latvala, Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen holding the first three places overall, and Patrick Sandell provisionally the best-placed MINI WRC driver in eleventh place, the Rally Portugal has three special stages listed for Friday, each of which will be driven twice. Special Stage 5 is scheduled to open at 1:01 pm CEST (12:01 local). You can find the latest updates on Twitter.com/MINImotorsport.
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.