Britain's Kris Meeke has admitted that next week's Rally Italia Sardegna will be a tough event for the new MINI WRC Team and that they still have lots to learn about the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car.
Meeke will finally get the chance to step up to the very top level this season and while the Ulsterman is looking forward to it, and was lucky enough to compete in Sardinia last year when it was part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge, he is by no means underestimating the challenge facing the Prodrive-run outfit, even if it has prepared meticulously.
“I have relatively recent experience [of Sardinia] as I was lucky enough last year to do this event when it was in the IRC and also did the Rally Costa Smeralda on the island,” said the 2009 Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion. “This is particularly good for me when going there in a new venture with a new rally car.
“We obviously have lots to learn about the WRC car though. It is a tough rally to start out with the new car and will be a big test for the new team. At the end of the day only time will tell.”
Team-mate Dani Sordo meanwhile agrees Sardinia will be no 'walk in the park', although he is looking forward to getting back out and competing again.
“It is a tricky rally with narrow roads that can be very slippery,” said the former Citroen man. “Some are twisty and some are fast.
“Also there is a lot of loose gravel on top of the surface and, once the early cars have been over, there is usually just the one line you can take. Often there are also large stones on the side of the road.
“I am very excited about the event, like everyone in the team, but also quite nervous as we don't know what to expect.
"It is really great however to be starting the new programme with the new car,” he summed-up.