The Prodrive WRC team will hope that revisions to the MINI John Cooper Works will allow it to fight for podium finish in the next round of the World Rally Championship.
Dani Sordo's car will feature more than 100 modifications compared to the car that competed at Rally Sweden, with the enhancements having now all been homologated under FIA regulations.
The major developments include a three per cent increase in power from the engine; a revised front bumper to improve cooling and the aerodynamic performance; improved Ohlins gravel dampers; and some significant weight savings primarily thanks to the use of a lithium ion battery for the first time.
“I am really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the MINI,” the Spaniard said. “We did our first test in the new car and it felt really really good. The team at Prodrive have done a great job. The new car feels like a big step forward and I could immediately feel the difference. I have been on the podium the last three times I have been at Portugal and I will be fighting hard to get MINI's first podium on a gravel event.”
Sordo will again be joined in the Prodrive line-up by Patrik Sandell, who will hope to add to the points he secured on the team's last event in Sweden.
“Eighth place was a great result for me in Sweden,” he said. “As the rally went on I got more and more confident in the car and my speed increased. I would like to continue in Portugal where I left off in Sweden and keep improving my pace.
“I think we can definitely finish in a higher position than before and I will be aiming for a top five finish.”
Team boss Dave Wilcock said he was confident that the changes made to the car would lead to a forward step in performance, although he admitted that Prodrive faced more of a challenge than its rivals having elected to miss the last gravel event in Mexico.
“The newly homologated parts make a significant improvement to the car and should we run error free, I would certainly hope that Dani could be up there fighting for a podium,” he said. “However, the competition does have the significant advantage of having already competed on gravel this year in Mexico, but Dani certainly knows the Portuguese event well and has achieved podium finishes here on his last three outings.”