The Mini WRC Team returns to action this weekend on Rally Finland, two months on from its competitive World Rally Championship debut on Rally d'Italia Sardegna.
The team has covered approximately 3,000 kilometres of testing on both gravel and tarmac since then.
“Finland is a specialist event, which always suits the style of the local Scandinavian drivers,” explained Team Principal David Richards. “This early in our programme our primary aim is to put more competitive miles on the cars and to get both drivers through to the finish in strong positions.”
Spain's Dani Sordo will be hoping to build upon his strong debut with the Mini, where he came home sixth overall after a largely trouble-free run.
“Finland is a really nice rally and what I would call typical of the sort you would expect in a World Rally Championship,” he said. “I think I have done it about five times and always enjoy it. I also like the fact there are always lots of spectators, and I think maybe the most on any rally in the championship.
“It is an exciting rally to do as the roads are fast, we have lots of crests and there are big jumps. You really have to concentrate on all the stages as you are driving flat out, and in many ways it is like being on a race circuit. I was really happy after our test last week in Finland, as the car felt good, so I am going there with a lot of confidence for our performance in this rally.”
Northern Irishman Kris Meeke struggled with throttle problems in Sardinia, despite showing promising speed early on.
“I have been to Finland twice before, but never in a WRC car,” he said. “You have to treat this rally with respect, as it is most specific with regards to knowledge and I don't have that knowledge, so I am going to treat it with caution. On some events you can make the pace notes and then drive a hundred per cent, but not here as there is a third dimension with the jumps.
“However, I am rally-hungry and can't wait to get back after the long gap since Sardinia. The three day test we did last week went well, and I had a good feeling coming away from it. At the end of the day, that is what this year is all about, getting to know the car and the events.”