As in 2012, this year’s WRC season kicks off with the prestigious Rally Monte Carlo. Its history dates back to 1911 and many regard the Monte as the mother of rallying as we know it today. Rally fans from around the world put on a huge party and turn night into day with Bengal fireworks as the drivers brave the darkness to cross the Col de Turini, with its steep passes and perilous hairpins.
Michal Kościuszko could hardly have chosen a more impressive stage, on which to make his debut in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. Especially as the Monte is of such huge historic significance to the MINI brand. MINI fans still look back fondly on the success enjoyed by the classic Mini Cooper S at the Rally Monte Carlo in the 1960s, when Paddy Hopkirk, Timo Mäkinen and Rauno Aaltonen shocked the rally world in their pocket dynamos in 1964, 1965 and 1967. And the Monte was also a happy stomping ground for the brand in 2012, with the top-placed MINI finishing runner-up.
Michal does, however, already have experience of the historic terrain he will face of the coming days. The 27-year-old Pole won the PWRC category last year. “That was amazing,” said Michal, who will contest every round of this season’s WRC in the MINI WRC for the Lotos WRC Team. “However, this time it will be a completely new challenge.” This is, after all, his first time up against the big boys.
In 2012 he was driving a Mitsubishi – a Group N car – in the PWRC. Now he is at the wheel of the considerably more powerful MINI John Cooper Works WRC, which he immediately took a liking to during recent test drives. “We were out on a four-kilometre test section, with a mixture of ice, dry tarmac and snow-covered corners – classic Monte conditions,” said Michal. “The MINI feels good. I really like the chassis. It helps you as you enter corners and allows you to take enough momentum out of the exits, as the balance of the MINI is very good.”
Michal has already successfully completed Tuesday’s Shakedown and the first special stages and is now really looking forward to the rest of the Monte’s 18 special stages, with a total 465 kilometres up against the clock. By the way, this is the longest Monte route in 17 years. The stages on Wednesday and Thursday are predominantly the same as last season’s. After that, however, the route of this year’s Monte often takes in new sections. Friday’s stage from Saint Nazair le Desert to Le Motte Chalancon is also a completely new stage.
However, the highlight will once again be the final day’s stage over the Col de Turini, which the teams must negotiate twice in the dark on Saturday. A real challenge for all the competitors. And Michal is fully aware of the perils that await him when he says: “Everyone has to be consistent, as there is no Rally 2 rule at the Monte. This means: one mistake and you’re out.” To find out how the MINI WRC rookie faired at the rally classic, read our detailed report on the Rally Monte Carlo on Monday.
Michal Kościuszko and Jarkko Nikara are flying the flag for MINI at the icy 2013 Rally Sweden, while a rally great was on hand to offer advice to Michal during his preparations.
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Michal Kościuszko enjoyed a great debut in the MINI WRC for the Lotos Rally Team at the Rally Monte Carlo. In this Q&A Michal speaks about the Monte, the MINI and his goals for the 2013 season.
Ultimate cornering, breathtaking acceleration.
MINI is once again represented in the FIA WRC in 2013. Michal Kościuszko is making his debut in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC for the Lotos WRC Team at the legendary Rally Monte Carlo.
A car built for victory. The MINI John Cooper Works Challenge races across the track at 240 km/h.
Experience MINI John Cooper Works.