MINI WRC team principal and Prodrive boss David Richards has said he wants Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo to try and 'demonstrate the true performance' of the outfit's car in Germany this week.
The Rallye Deutschland will be only the squad's third outing in the FIA World Rally Championship following its return and while the MINI John Cooper Works WRC has shown pretty good pace thus far, both drivers' had to retire late on in Finland due to overheating issues. Germany though will be a new challenge, as it is the first sealed surface event for the new generation of WRC cars.
“We have high expectations going into Rally Germany,” Richard stated. “The MINI has shown a great deal of promise in recent tarmac tests in Germany and Italy and both drivers have told me how much confidence they have in the set up.
“Dani, in particular, very much likes this rally and I know that he and Kris have traded times on these stages in the past.
“Unlike Finland, where our number one priority was to get valuable competitive mileage on the car, in Germany we will be looking for both drivers to begin to demonstrate the true performance of the MINI.”
Sordo and Meeke meanwhile are both fans of the Trier-based event and are eager to see how the car performs relative to the Citroens and Fords.
“This is a rally I am really looking forward to,” Sordo continued. “I like the stages in all three areas – the vineyards, the military training ground and the normal roads. It has lots of hairpins, which are very different to the tight corners we get in Spain.
“I always remember the military training area of Baumholder, as there are some very big rocks there so you have to be careful not to get punctures. I particularly enjoy driving in the vineyards as these roads are narrow and fast.
“The fans who come to watch us in their thousands are really nice. Obviously rallying is very popular in Germany, and so it will be good for us to have some 'home' support this year for the MINI.”
“I think it is a fantastic rally,” Meeke added. “I have done it three times before, and all of these have been good experiences. The stages are demanding and, because of the different surfaces, it is more like three rallies in one. You have the vineyards, Baumholder and the Saarland region. The weather can also be very changeable there, so this is another challenge.
“The year I remember best was in 2005 in the junior category when I was fighting with Dani, and after three days with two stages to go we were just six seconds apart. Unfortunately I then had a puncture, but it was a really fantastic battle.
“I also like the event because it is very popular with the fans. It is based in central Europe so it is easy for the spectators to get there. I know I shall have lots of support.”