Aston Martin tops Le Mans test
Pech wins Rally Krumlov
Prodrive looks for podium in New Zealand
The Prodrive WRC Team returns to the World Rally Championship next week at the Brother Rally New Zealand two months following its last outing at Rally Portugal. After proving his pace by taking six fastest stage times in the newly upgrade MINI John Cooper Works WRC in Portugal the team believes that Dani Sordo can challenge for the podium on the gravel stages of New Zealand.
While Sordo has not competed in the WRC in the MINI since Portugal he stood in for the injured Jari Latvala and drove the Ford Fiesta WRC in Rally Argentina. If it wasn’t for an electrical fault on the final powerstage he would have taken his second podium of the year. However, just two weeks later he gave the new MINI its first major international event win by winning the Tour de Corse in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. This time, Sordo was driving the tarmac specification MINI John Cooper Works S2000.
“We were really impressed by Dani’s pace in Portugal. The upgrades really made a difference to the car and Dani got into a great rhythm on day two after the unfortunate electrical problems forced him to stop on the first leg,” said Dave Wilcock, Prodrive WRC Team principal. “It is mid winter in New Zealand and the smooth fast and what could very easily be damp conditions should suit the MINI and Dani’s style. He showed what he could do in similar circumstances in Portugal and proved why he is such a highly regarded WRC driver by so nearly taking another podium in his very first outing in a new car in Argentina.”
In between events, Sordo has been using his spare time to keep in peak condition, by competing in the second Carrera Solidaria Santander, a 160 km mountain bike race and managing to finish near the head of the field of 250 riders. He also took the opportunity to fly to the UK to shake down his Rally New Zealand event car and to try some new developments for rallies later in the year, which will include Rally GB and Rally Germany among others.
“The MINI had very good pace in Portugal and I got a really good feeling for new car,” said Sordo. “The car is particularly good in the flowing high speed sections and I think it will be very well suited to the stages in New Zealand. However, so much will depend on our road position and the weather as it could be cold and wet.”
It is 40 years since a 1275 GT Mini Clubman won the 1972 Heatway International Motor rally in New Zealand, driven by Scotsman Andrew Cowan. The small car headed home the factory backed Toyota team as well as a group of BMWs, Ford Escorts and Holden Torana XU1 competitors. As in Monte Carlo eight years earlier it was the 95 bhp Minis agility which overcame the more powerful competition.