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Maciek Szczepaniak column: Broken gearbox puts Kosciuszko out
14 April 2013
Michal Kosciuszko's co-driver Maciek Szczepaniak reflects on the final day of Rally de Portugal where a gearbox problem forced the duo out in the last test in their Lotos Team WRC-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC car...
Hello everyone, Maciek here, writing to you for the last time from the Algarve.
Today started well. On the morning loop our MINI John Cooper Works WRC felt a little soft - we were sensitive to every impact and the rough conditions of the Portuguese gravel. However, we didn't have any major problems. Our main focus was on making sure our tyres didn't overheat.
We only had two new tyres left for today and we decided to save those for the afternoon, so this morning we ran on used ones. Not easy on a difficult day. There were nearly as many kilometres as yesterday and the longest stage on the rally's itinerary, Almodovar.
This afternoon the car felt a little better and the set-up suited us. We didn't push too hard though, because we couldn't catch the car in front, we could only risk losing position. Despite this, on SS15, the second pass through Almodovar, we broke the gearbox approximately 7km into the stage and were forced to retire. This was disappointing, of course.
On a more positive note, in terms of our performance, we feel that we made a step forward this rally and we'd like to make another step in Argentina, because we always aim to keep improving. Here in Portugal, we had the latest O1C engine evolution for the first time, which is more flexible with more top end horsepower. We also ran different dampers based on the feedback we gave after Mexico. These factors worked with the set-up we found on our test to make us feel more confident in the car.
The Live TV here at Rally de Portugal was a great idea. We hope this will be available on other events this season. People love to see live action and we've had very positive feedback from the extra publicity.
Now we're looking ahead to Rally Argentina. We've competed there three times before in 2009, 2011 and 2012. I like the event. The gravel experience gathered in Mexico and Portugal will really help us.
That's all from me (for now!)
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