Motorsport Italia team manager Bruno di Pianto reflects on the final day of Rally Sweden, where Michal Kosciuszko moved up to 14th in his Lotos Team WRC-run MINI John Cooper Works WRC car...
Hello for the last time from Rally Sweden,
Today I had a road trip in a winter wonderland, following the rally car on a tour through Sweden and Norway. I headed off from the service park to refuel in the little town of Svulrya, then to Kirkener regroup, back to refuel, to Torsby remote and back to base after 280km, a hot dog, a waffle, multiple cups of tea and a fair few litres of fuel!
It was a really positive start to the day for Michal. He immediately halved his seconds per kilometre deficit compared to Martin Prokop, who's been the fastest driver on DMACK tyres during the rally. This was partly because Michal and [co-driver] Maciek [Szczepaniak] have been updating their pace notes as they go, increasing their precision for the second loop of stages.
Worn studs on Michal's tyres affected his speed. However, Michal finds it easier to control his MINI John Cooper Works WRC with worn front tyres than worn rear tyres, so he minimised the effect by swapping the fronts and rears for the second pass of Finnskogen, SS21. Of the 32 tyres used on the rally, we saved four new tyres for the Power Stage. We also removed the spares from the MINI at Remote Service so that Michal could push as hard as possible on the Power Stage. We were pleased when this strategy paid off and he moved up one place to finish 14th overall.
Our target for the season is the top ten, but we always knew that Rally Sweden was going to be a challenge and the conditions are the least familiar to Michal of any rally on the 2013 WRC Calendar. We're pleased that he completed all the stages and will be well-prepared to tackle Sweden head on next time!
The next event is Rally Mexico and that'll give Michal more of an opportunity to improve himself. He knows the stages better than he knows Rallye Monte Carlo or Sweden and is more comfortable on the gravel and in warmer temperatures. Of course, in Mexico the drivers have the altitude to contend with, but he's familiar with this challenge so he'll prepare thoroughly.
Now it's time to head back to Italy! A big thank you to everyone who's supported the team during the rally. I also have to say good job to our mechanics who put in a superhuman effort in sub-zero conditions.
Ciao for now,