Seven special stages totalling slightly over 146 timed kilometres faced the crews on Friday, and, as Dani Sordo and his MINI John Cooper Works WRC made their way out of Parc Fermé and towards the starting ramp shortly after sunrise on Friday, all still ran to schedule for the Spaniard. Dani had, after all, set the benchmark time during shake-down, then followed up with third overall on the opening stage to make a promising start to the 2012 Rallye de France. However, just 24 hours later, Dani was not in the mood to share further details of his day with the media after a challenging working day, providing only brief answers before heading off for the night
That he was within just 16,2 seconds of a potential podium place seemed of little interest to Dani. He had certainly hoped for a better reward than provisional fifth place behind overall leader Sébastien Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala, Mikko Hirvonen and Petter Solberg after a long rally day in France, with a podium place having been his stated target. He had, after all, finished second here a year ago to score his best result of the 2011 WRC season with the MINI WRC. After missing out on a podium on his last event in Germany due to tyre damage, only a top-three finish would do.
After the first three of Friday’s seven stages, Dani suddenly found himself in fifth place. "The car is too soft," he explained during the lunchtime service break. The Prodrive WRC Team reacted by immediately changing the set-up of the MINII WRC before he headed out to contest the remaining four stages. However, his patience was immediately retested: During the remaining 75 timed kilometres his brakes only worked to his satisfaction once warmed up, forcing him to adopt a defensive driving style. As they could only be checked over and analysed after the day’s proceedings, Dani had no choice other than to settle for a provisional fifth place overall. "It was not an easy day," said Dani, who had hoped to be amongst the front-runners. "But tomorrow we will again fight for the podium." The good news for Dani and the Prodrive WRC Team: Over half the competitive distance still remains to be run before the event finishes in Strasbourg. Thus, given his deficit of 16,2 seconds to the podium, anything is still possible for Dani in France.
The other four MINI WRCs in the field also made their respective ways through France on Friday. Chris "Atko" Atkinson of the WRC Team MINI Portugal ended the day in 11th lace, with Romain Dumas holding down 19th. Yvan Muller progressed up the order, making up six places to end in 20th place, while Paulo Nobre starts the second rally day - which opens with the ninth stage, a 18,26-kilometre test at 8:38 CEST on Saturday – 28th. Eight stages totalling 192,62 kilometers centred in the region south-west of Strasbourg are on the agenda.
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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.