Having lined up with the MINI John Cooper Works S2000 at the 2011 Rally Mexico, the WRC version will now be in action in Mexico for the first time. 24 special stages with over 400 timed kilometres await the teams, almost all of which are on rough gravel, taking a huge toll on material, and at an altitude of up to 2200 metres above sea level.
To prepare for the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountain ranges in central Mexico, the teams have had to work on the cars at special tests at high altitude, as the cars lose up to 20 percent of their performance in the thin air. It is the same for all teams, however, so there should be no advantage for anyone in particular. The pressure is on the teams' engineers to find the perfect engine set-up under extreme conditions, in order to keep the loss of performance to a minimum.
The first "Qualifying Stage" in the history of the WRC on a real gravel event will take place at 10:33 (local time) on Thursday morning on the gravel roads around San José de Llanos. The result will determine the order, in which the drivers can select their start positions for the opening stage. The fastest driver on the "Qualifying Stage" can pick his own starting position for the first special stage. No driver will want to be first out onto the route at the Rally Mexico, which features some extremely rocky stages. As a rule, the first car tends to clear the road for the following drivers. The teams will once again need to be prepared for some tyre damage.
Despite the ruthless Mexican terrain, Armindo Araujo is still optimistic. "I like Mexico a lot. The conditions are not that different to Portugal," he says. His team principal Bruno de Pianto is also hungry for another good result. "We are aiming for a top-ten finish with Armindo," says de Pianto. Armindo laid the foundations for his 2010 PWRC victory with a good result in Mexico, where he also scored his first WRC point in the same year. "I will be doing my very best to meet the expectations I have of myself," says Armindo. The Portuguese driver has already produced two promising results at the opening two rounds of the 2012 WRC season, with tenth place at the Rally Monte Carlo and fifteenth in Sweden.
In contrast, Armindo's team-mate Paulo Nobre will be entering unchartered waters in Mexico. "For Paulo, it's his first time competing in Mexico, so the aim is to complete all the stages successfully and to enjoy the experience of being one of the first drivers to compete at a WRC long haul event in a MINI," says team principal de Pianto.
The fun starts on Thursday evening for Armindo, Paulo and WRC Team MINI Portugal with the opening special stage on a 1.05-kilometre asphalt street circuit in the city of Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – a spectacle the fans will not want to miss. This is followed by a further 23 stages between Friday and Sunday, when the winner of the Rally Mexico will be crowned following the grand finale – the Power Stage near León de Los Aldama.
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.