MINI: Richards realistic in Finland
"Having both cars in the top 10 at the finish would be a good result"
MINI WRC Team principal David Richards is playing down his squad’s chances of a podium finish on Neste Oil Rally Finland, despite an impressive start to the event by factory drivers Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo.
Sordo is sixth heading into day two, 14.3s off the lead, while Meeke is ninth, 20.9s adrift of top spot. Sordo was second fastest on stage two and posted a succession of top 10 fastest stage times. Meeke, who hasn’t competed in Finland since 2006, only failed to post a top 10-time on one occasion.
“Let’s be realistic, to win here in Finland you have to start with a Finn,” said Richards. “Both our drivers know the challenge and know the task in hand. Nobody is going to be foolish about our expectations or what we can deliver. Having both cars comfortably in the top 10 at the finish would be a good result.”
Rally Finland marks the second appearance of the season for the Prodrive-run factory MINI squad.
“We’re on target,” said Richards. “It’s early days but everyone is very happy with the car and it’s interesting when some of our customers get in the car and say it’s extremely confidence instilling, which was one of the original design ideas. We’re just developing the car and the more miles on the car the better.”
Matti Rantanen was the leading MINI driver after stage one with the sixth fastest time in his Grifone-run entry. Unfortunately a huge sixth-gear roll on the very next stage put paid to the Finn’s challenge. With his car badly damaged Rantanen won’t be restarting under SupeRally regulations today.
Armindo Araujo, in his Motorsport Italia-run John Cooper Works WRC, is 26th overnight on his Rally Finland debut. The Portuguese lost time when he couldn’t find the windscreen wiper switch after going through a water splash on stage three.
Brazil World Rally Team’s Daniel Oliveira, who is also making his first start in Finland, is 38th after three stages. Mattias Therman is 31st.
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