Motorsport Italia team manager Bruno di Pianto looks ahead to the next round of the World Rally Championship in Argentina for Michal Kosciuszko and the Lotos Team WRC outfit
Bruno here, writing from Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina.
It's full speed ahead for rally preparation because the event's itinerary has changed this year to start on Wednesday and finish Saturday. The rally is over 400 kilometres this year and kicks off with a Super Special Stage here in the town on Wednesday night, before the first full stage Thursday morning. I think Saturday'll be a tough day with 77.92 kilometres of rough Special Stages in total, but it ends on a high with the famous El Condor test as this year's PowerStage.
For me, El Condor is the most iconic gravel stage on the current WRC calendar and one of my personal favourites. When you drive it, you start at the top of the mountain and descend though terrain that could have been taken straight from an Indiana Jones movie! It provides the perfect set for a WRC Special Stage. The narrow roads are tricky to negotiate and punctuated with wooden bridges, while low-hanging fog often makes it even more challenging.
El Condor and Mina Clavero, the other stage on Saturday's loop, are like a different world to the majority of the Rally Argentina stages. Michał likes the faster, wider stages, in particular Santa Rosa - Villa del Dique. It's just over 40 kilometres with some very fast sections, crests, a water splash and this year has a new route, which'll be a real challenge.
Stages like this are great for spectators and the fans here in Argentina are fantastic. They're truly crazy about rally and create an awesome atmosphere in the service park and out on the stages.
It's my fourth time at Rally Argentina, and my third with Michał, but his and Maciek's first time out here in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC. My Rally Argentina highlight so far was winning the PWRC category here last year with Motorsport Italia's sister team Ralliart Italy. Our second win in a row, it really set us up for the season en route to our third production car world title. Let's hope we can get a good result this year and top that memory. We're shooting for a top ten finish!
Michał will be competing in the same car he used in México, which was shipped here directly after the León based event finished. The MINI's set-up will be very similar here, but including many of the upgrades featured in Portugal. This rally should also be easier on the tyres. Normally the temperature and conditions at Rally Argentina call for soft tyres most of the time. This is positive for us, because the DMACK softs have proved to be a good option on previous rallies so far this season.
That's all from me for now. We'll be back with updates throughout the week.