Day one of the ADAC Rally Germany ended with the MINI WRC Team in a very encouraging fourth and fifth overall. From the very first of today’s six stages Dani Sordo (ES) and Carlos del Barrio (ES) in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC number 37 and Kris Meeke (GB) and Paul Nagle (IR) in the number 52 sister car were putting in competitive stage times. As the cars arrived in Trier for the overnight halt the Spanish duo were in front by just 17.3 secs, although the honour of a top three stage time went to Meeke.
While the weather had been hot and dry up to the start of the event, as the cars got onto stage two the rains came. The Citroen duo of Sébastien Loeb (FR) and Sébastien Ogier (FR) had opted for a different Michelin tyre strategy, as in Germany they could choose either hard or soft compounds. They took soft, while the other top teams took hard and this proved quite crucial in the wet conditions that only affected part of the one stage but gave them an advantage.
With six stages over 133 kilometres covered today, the crews are now ready for another eight stages and 150 kilometres tomorrow. Ahead of them they have the very tough Panzerplatte stage on the Baumholder tank training ground, which is 34.18 kilometres long. This stage, which is run twice, has often been a major decider in the outcome of this rally.
Dave Wilcock, Technical Director:
“It was a good day for us. The weather played a big part in our positions and performance in the morning loop, with the rain on stage two. Everyone was on hard tyres and Citroen, with their weather information, took soft. They took 30 seconds off the rest of the field! Our battle is now with Ford and into the second loop we were chasing Mikko Hirvonen. Very quickly both Fords struck problems, so we find ourselves in a reasonable position at the moment in fourth and fifth. We are very pleased with where the MINI is in tarmac form, and very optimistic for the rest of the rally. I am sure tomorrow’s stages will suit Dani, and Kris is also really optimistic. Kris had a small fuel surge problem, but we have replaced all the parts and are confident that is sorted for tomorrow.”
“I am very happy as the performance from the MINI in this rally is quite good. Fourth is not so bad, and honestly I didn’t expect to be in this position after day one. This morning the times were really close, but now they are not so close, as I think everyone has started to wake up on these tarmac roads. We have a little bit of work to do on the understeer in the corners, but as we are only on our third rally with this car we are not so bad. The times from Citroen are very fast, but Kris and myself will keep pushing hard and I think the work the team has done today is very good.”
“It has been a really enjoyable rally and driving here has given me a smile. I have always liked this rally and gone well in the junior categories. This is my first time here in a world rally car and everything is coming at you a little faster. This morning there were places where I was hesitating, and we had the damp stage on the hard tyres which was quite difficult. I got comfortable and was really happy, but had a little problem on the second stage of this afternoon’s loop. The engine started cutting out towards the end of the stage, and then on heavy breaking it stalled completely and I spun and lost six or seven seconds. Overall I have to be very encouraged by the pace and to be setting times in the top three has to be encouraging. We have a 45 minute service so we have to get to work now to try and resolve that little issue, even though I did not have it on that last stage. ”