Sordo Cautious on MINI WRC
Dan | Feb 03, 2011
At the launch of the MINI Countryman rally car in Monaco this week, I spoke to new signing Dani Sordo to get his thoughts on his new team, the development of the MINI WRC car and the forthcoming season.
"At the moment, I'm really happy with the car," said Sordo. "It's a new team, a new challenge, but everything is going in the right direction.
"I've not done many kilometres yet, but we're still working in testing. Everything on the car now is very good, but it doesn't have one [outstanding quality]. Now we need to work hard and develop it more."
Sordo's early testing work was carried out in the first Countryman test mule. Prodrive has since built a second car, in Super Production guise, which benefits from many improvements over the preceding version. One such example is the engine, which has recently been upgraded, with a further upgrade expected before the team makes its debut in Sardinia: "It feels much, much better with this engine."
As a former Citroen works driver, Sordo carried out substantial testing work on the new DS3 WRC; this is certainly one of the major advantages of bringing him into the squad: "The cars are very different, because we are in a different situation with the car. Everything is really new [on the MINI] and the DS3 has covered many more kilometres, but both are really good.
"I will try to score podiums on tarmac [this year], and on gravel if it's possible, but to be honest we need to keep taking the car in the right direction and work hard on the suspension. Honestly, I don't know [when we'll be able to fight for wins]. Everything is new, every car is new; maybe we'll arrive this year and be in the fight with the others, but I'm sure next year we will be.
"I want to win the championship with MINI; why not? We are here to do that, so we'll try."
Naturally, Sordo spoke with all the consideration of a media trained rally driver. He seemed genuinely encouraged by the MINI WRC's potential, but left the impression that it is currently far from where it needs to be to compete with the Citroen DS3 WRC with which he is so familiar.
There is one point that will be encouraging for the whole team; Prodrive has managed to get its car under the FIA's 1200kg weight minimum (which will later be met with usefully placed ballast). Of this challenge, Ford technical director Christian Loriaux last week said "It has been difficult to get down to that figure," without explicitly stating that his team had managed to do so…
The new car is currently en route to a gravel test facility in Spain, where Sordo will drive for the next few days before Kris Meeke takes over next week.
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