For a day and a night Chris Atkinson was unable to wipe an enormous grin off his face. Before making his MINI John Cooper Works WRC debut on the Rallye Deutschland, the Australian had certainly not reckoned on finishing fifth. "It was an awesome weekend," said Chris, known in WRC circles as ‘Atko’. "We went to the rally with modest expectations. I was hoping for a finish between 6th
, so 5th
was really cool."
Despite not having tested meaningfully, in Germany Atko instantly felt comfortable with the MINI WRC. "Straight away I had a great feeling for the chassis balance of the MINI so that made it easy. There were really no surprises," said Atko, who quickly bonded with the crew of the WRC Team MINI Portugal led by Bruno di Pianto. "The team atmosphere made it really easy as well as fun, so I was pretty relaxed from the start," added Atko, whose laid-back manner in Germany enabled him to concentrate fully on the rally’s 15 difficult stages.
Atko’s next event is the Rally Great Britain (13-16 September), which - unlike Germany - will be contested on gravel. "It’s my best surface. The rally will get a bit dirty. It is great fun," grins Atko. Ahead of his start in Great Britain, Atko faces numerous tests in the MINI WRC, during which he aims to, as he puts it, " get that last few percent out of the MINI WRC". Is another top five finish possible on Rally GB? "It would be great to keep scoring good points," says Atko. "But let's not get too greedy just yet, its already been an awesome start."
Following a solid start on the Rallye Deutschland, the event looked promising for Dani Sordo and the MINI WRC entered by the Prodrive WRC Team. While lying fifth on the second day he had his sights firmly set on third place before tyre damage and a collision with a boundary stone dropped him down the overall order. Dani eventually finished ninth. "I am extremely disappointed," said Dani at the finish, having initially targeted a podium place. He had set top five times on over half the rally’s special stages, even recording a second-best and overall stage win. "The MINI was good," says Dani, "but we can still extract a bit more."
Dani’s team principal, Dave Wilcock, will no doubt accede to his driver’s wishes ahead of his next WRC start, the Rally France (4-7 October), even if, as Wilcock says, "nothing major" will be changed. "During the second day the pace was where we expected it. Until France we mainly have to keep Dani active. We are hoping to organize a pre event test in France the weekend before the rally as this is the tactic we used last year to good effect." A solid performance is the key, for the goals for France both Dani and the Prodrive WRC Team are clearly defined: "To be competitive," says Wilcock, "and finish on the podium."
Further information on the MINI John Cooper Works WRC teams and their preparation for their upcoming WRC rounds is available on Facebook.com/MINImotorsport and Twitter.com/MINImotorsport.
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.
The MINI Motorsport family is large and embraces the whole world. Find out more about the MINI Stars worldwide.
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.