Even before the cars have the opening metres of the Rallye de France (4th to 7th October) behind them, MINI fans can already view the eleventh round of the 2012 WRC season as a real highlight. No less than five MINI John Cooper Works WRC cars will take to the roads around Strasbourg, giving fans of MINI plenty to cheer about. The driving line-up is also worth a mention: as well as Chris Atkinson and Paulo Nobre of WRC Team MINI Portugal, Dani Sordo of the Prodrive WRC Team will return to action after skipping Wales GB Rally. In addition, the second Prodrive MINI will be driven by an old hand and local hero with plenty of motorsport experience under his belt: reigning World Touring Car Champion, Yvan Muller.
Having enjoyed success in single-seater racing and various touring car series, Yvan’s CV also includes two starts at the famous Le Mans 24 Hours, two outings at the Rally Dakar and two WRC appearances. Yvan lined up at the Rallye de France with different manufacturers in 2010 und 2011. He is now set to drive the MINI WRC and says: "I am really looking forward to competing in my home event in a top level world rally car after last year's run in an S2000.” Following tests in the MINI WRC, Yvan is confident ahead of his third WRC start in France. ". As both my Chevrolet touring car and the MINI use similar 1.6 turbo engines, the performance was nearly the same.” says Yvan. “I am sure it will take me a little while to get used to driving with pace notes again, even so my target would still be a finish in the points.”
Another person determined to pick up points in France is Dani Sordo, who was not happy with his recent tenth place at the Rally Germany. “I really like the Rallye de France,” says Dani. “It is technically very demanding, because the driving surface changes a lot. This means you have to remain very focussed.” He proved just what he is capable of in this environment last season, when he finished runner-up up to claim his best WRC result to date in the MINI. This time he is out to finish high up in the field again and certainly would not mind another podium finish. Although Dani can use last year’s pace notes, a lot of the Rallye de France has changed since 12 months ago. The organisers have altered every stage, meaning that almost 44 per cent of the route is now different to last year. 22 stages with 404.9 timed kilometres are scheduled – a 20 per cent increase in the overall length of the rally.
More route, more fun for the fans, for whom the organisers have once again set up many spectator hot spots. From these positions, fans will not only have a wonderful vantage point, from which to cheer on Yvan and Dani, but also the third MINI WRC driver in the field: Chris "Atko" Atkinson. The Australian from WRC Team MINI Portugal also believes a points finish is possible, having narrowly missed out on tenth place on the final stage in Great Britain. Although Atko feels more at home on gravel than asphalt, everyone knows he is capable of bigger and better things with the number 12 MINI WRC. Atko’s team-mate from WRC Team MINI Portugal is once again crowd favourite Paulo Nobre in the number 14 MINI WRC. Romain Dumas, who has gained most of his motorsport experience at endurance and circuit races in the past, completes the quintet of MINI WRC drivers. The Frenchman’s latest success came in the form of victories at the 24-hour races in Le Mans and Spa in 2010.
The stage is set for the biggest contingent of MINI John Cooper Works WRC cars this season. The action gets underway at 16:30 (CET) on Thursday, when the Rallye de France opens with the 3.63-kilometre Super Special Stage (“Strasbourg”). As always, you can find all the latest information on the Rallye de France online at Facebook.com/MINImotorsport and 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.
The MINI Motorsport family is large and embraces the whole world. Find out more about the MINI Stars worldwide.
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.