Miniology’s nearly live WRC coverage continues in Wales, which returned to typical November weather for day two of its World Rally Championship event.
Rain meant the crews were greeted with wet and slippery stages as they left Llandudno this morning. While the MINI John Cooper Works WRC of Kris Meeke (GB) and Paul Nagle (IR) will start day three of Wales Rally GB eighth overall, the sister car of Dani Sordo (ES) and Carlos del Barrio (ES) will be in the SupeRally after crashing out on the second stage of the day.
It wasn’t an easy day for either of the MINI WRC Team crews. On the second stage of the day the Spaniards went off the road after braking too late. Even though they could not get back on the road, the damage was not bad and they will be re-starting from Cardiff tomorrow morning. For Meeke it was a spin that resulted in him losing an alternator belt on stage seven and dropping two and a half minutes. Luckily a spare was carried in the car, so the repairs were carried out by the crew. Even though this dropped Meeke down from sixth to 11th overall, he was soon back in his stride setting the second fastest time on stage eight and the fastest on stage nine. This is the first fastest stage time set on this event by a British driver since 2005.
Today was the longest of the rally in terms of stage distance, with 141.43 kilometres. Tomorrow there are another six stages and 128.06 kilometres of competition. The cars have travelled back to Cardiff tonight from the service park in Builth Wells, and will leave the Welsh capital tomorrow from 06.00 to arrive back at service just before 08.00.
Dave Wilcock, Technical Director reported in saying, “All in all a day of highs and lows. Unfortunately for Dani he went off on the second stage this morning, just missed his braking point and, with the low grip conditions, just dropped the car off the road and into a ditch. Luckily there was not much damage so we shall get that car back and into SupeRally tomorrow. As for Kris, he had a small spin and an alternator belt problem on stage seven, which dropped him back. Then on the final stage he was hampered a bit running in the dark. He set some competitive times this morning, and then this afternoon really started to feel his feet with a stage win and a second fastest. He is still very competitive in eighth, and he looks likely to jump comfortably into sixth after the first couple of stages in the morning. It will be a bit more difficult for him tomorrow as they are stages he has not competed on for many, many years, so the guys who competed here last year have already driven these. Like the early part of the year, he will be on new notes so that will hold him back a little bit. We are pleased with the way he is going at the moment, and he just needs to keep that momentum going.”
Dani Sordo (MINI John Cooper Works WRC No 37) said, “I am disappointed about this. I just braked really late and it was my mistake. The conditions were really slippery, I saw the lines of the first cars and I was a little bit confused, as I thought this was the braking point. As soon as I braked I knew from the first second it was too late. I have to admit that from the beginning of the rally I haven’t felt confident in the stages in these conditions. The car wasn’t badly damaged so I am looking forward to getting back into action tomorrow.”
Kris Meeke (MINI John Cooper Works WRC No 52) summed it up by saying, “It felt simple and easy and I am delighted to have my first fastest time on tarmac in Spain and now here on gravel, so things are heading in the right direction. The car is working really, really well. This afternoon was very good, but I am just a bit frustrated with the problem we had on the first loop. We spun and about a kilometre or a kilometre and a half after that the warning light came on. The alternator belt that controls the water pump had come off, and when the water is not circulating in the engine the temperature goes up. We lost over two minutes in the stage, which was unfortunate, but that is the way it is. It is nice to be able to fight back and now we are only a few seconds off sixth place. My target is fifth, but it is a long, long way to go. We were able to learn a lot about the car on that loop, and the most important thing this weekend is to learn about it on gravel. On this rally all the little things have to work and they are doing that perfectly, which you need in these conditions.”
We wish them better success, even though this year was just a trial run and all, it would be sweet if they ended up with a top placement now wouldn’t it?
We have a selection of similarly sweet photos for your viewing pleasure, here they are:
[Source: BMW Group PressClub Sport, Wales, 11th November 2011.]