Prodrive team reveals podium hopes

Sordo’s modified MINI capable of top three in Portugal, says Wilock


By Franck Drui

26 March 2012 - 21:49
Prodrive team reveals podium hopes

The new Prodrive WRC Team will break cover on Vodafone Rally de Portugal this week with team principal Dave Wilcock convinced that a podium finish is a strong possibility for the British squad’s lead driver Dani Sordo.

Previously run as the MINI WRC Team, the outfit will consist of the same personnel - including number one pilot Sordo - that helped to secure three world championship podiums from seven starts for the Anglo-German make’s John Cooper Works WRC. Prodrive also oversaw Subaru’s trio of WRC drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles previously.

While Sordo’s MINI will be similar in appearance to the car he drove on Rally Sweden last month, albeit with increased BP branding as part of an extended partnership with the firm, more than 100 modifications have been made since then as part of a major homologation programme.

These include a three per cent increase in engine power; a tweaked front bumper to improve cooling and aerodynamic performance; enhanced Ohlins gravel dampers; and some significant weight savings primarily due to the use of a lithium ion battery for the first time.

“The newly homologated parts make a significant improvement to the car and should we run error free, I would certainly hope that Dani could be up there fighting for a podium,” said Wilcock. “However, the competition does have the significant advantage of having already competed on gravel this year in Mexico, but Dani certainly knows the Portuguese event well and has achieved podium finishes here on his last three outings.”

Sordo didn’t compete in Portugal last year and also skipped Rally Guanajuato Mexico earlier this month. However, he has conducted extensive testing in his uprated MINI and has a strong record on the Algarve-based event.

“The new car felt really, really good,” said Spaniard Sordo. “The team at Prodrive have done a great job. The new car feels like a big step forward and I could immediately feel the difference. I have been on the podium the last three times I have been at Portugal and I will be fighting hard to get MINI’s first podium on a gravel event.”

Patrik Sandell, from Sweden, will line up in a second Prodrive WRC Team entry. Armindo Araujo and Paulo Nobre will also pilot Prodrive-developed MINIs in Portugal.


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