The Mini WRC Team may only be entering their sixth event of 2011 this weekend, but expectations in the team are still high. The team have managed two podiums and several fastest stage times so far this year, and many feel a strong result is not out of the question in Wales this weekend. Not only will it be a home event for the team, but also for Irishman Kris Meeke, who considers this to be his home event. He travels to Wales Rally GB for only the third time in his career.
Meeke's team-mate, Dani Sordo, also has high hopes for this weekend, having been on the podium here twice already. He said: “I like the rally a lot even though it is really difficult. It is usually wet and so the roads are very muddy. As there are a lot of new stages for me it will be difficult to get the pace notes right, but that is something I shall work on with Carlos [del Barrio, co-driver].”
Both drivers have been testing their Mini Cooper Works WRC cars in South Walesthis week at Walters Arena, where they have been tuning the car towards the gravel surface which makes Rally GB infamous and loved in equal measure. Team Principal of the team, Dave Richards, explains: “We have already enjoyed a far better year than anyone could ever have expected but as our focus over the last few months has been on tarmac development, another podium result would be a surprise finish to a year that has far exceeded everyone's expectation.”
Rally GB is also a strain not only on the competitive stages but in their positioning. With the Rally HQ in South Wales in Cardiff, the service park in mid-Wales and the first stage in North Wales, the crews and their mechanics will have to be on the ball at all times to make sure they do not miss a single stage.
With heavy rain forecast both before and after the event, it promises to be a real test for the cars, too. The Mini WRC Team are celebrating the 125th anniversary of partner Bosch, who produce several key components for the John Cooper Works which the team uses. Despite this trial for both the cars and crews, Rally GB remains one of the most loved events on the WRC calendar and this weekend promises to be a real success. The Mini WRC Team will be hoping it is successful for them, too.