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Q&A: Rauno Aaltonen

Rauno Aaltonen: Kris and Dani are absolute professionals. Even after just a few outings, top drivers like them are able to push the car to the limit. The tests give reason for confidence. I am sure the MINI John Cooper Works WRC will make it very easy for the drivers to quickly get the absolute maximum out of the total package.

Rauno Aaltonen made MINI history in the 1960s. The Finn stepped onto the podium at the Rallye Monte Carlo on no less than three occasions and, at the side of co-driver Henry Liddon, won the most iconic rally in the world in 1967.

In addition he also claimed victory in the European Rally Championship in 1965 and added several national titles in his native Finland. Here the 73-year-old talks about the return of MINI to rallying following the official 'Team Launch' today in Oxford...


Q:
How do you rate the technical development in rallying since the 1960s?

Rauno Aaltonen:
The way rallying has developed is very positive. I particularly like the four-wheel drive. To a certain degree, the sport is returning to its roots. For example, no electronic driving assistance is allowed in the WRC. Despite this, the developers at MINI John Cooper Works WRC have left no stone unturned. The modern engine management catches the eye, as does the powerful propulsion made possible by the MINI four-wheel drive system. Nevertheless pushing a rally car to the limit is still a big challenge for today's drivers.

Q:
Do you believe Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo will first have to get used to their new car?

Rauno Aaltonen:
Kris and Dani are absolute professionals. Even after just a few outings, top drivers like them are able to push the car to the limit. The tests give reason for confidence. I am sure the MINI John Cooper Works WRC will make it very easy for the drivers to quickly get the absolute maximum out of the total package.

Q:
The MINI WRC team will be starting at selected WRC rallies in 2011. What do you expect from the team in its first year?

Rauno Aaltonen:
I always say that every child must first be nurtured. In the case of motorsport, this means it is initially all about gaining experience so you can improve the car. Even the best computers cannot provide this experience. As MINI is in such an advanced stage of technical development, the team is able to start under competitive conditions. This obviously means you are a step further into your preparations for the second season.

Q:
What do you make of the production model, the MINI Countryman?

Rauno Aaltonen:
The new MINI Countryman is an outstanding car, which I can well imagine getting for myself. It has a lot of interior space, is extremely easy to drive, and gives you that typical MINI feeling when you drive it. The MINI Countryman is a genuine surprise.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk and Dani Sordo (ESP) and Kris Meeke (GBR)
Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo meet Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk as two generations of MINI rally car sit side by side [Pic credit: Mini World Rally Team]
Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk and Dani Sordo (ESP) and Kris Meeke (GBR)
Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk and Dani Sordo (ESP) and Kris Meeke (GBR)
Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk

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