Dani Sordo has called on Prodrive to try and extract more performance from the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car after his outing on Rallye de France ended in disappointment.
Sordo went into the final day in a three-way battle for fourth with Thierry Neuville and Mads Ostberg.
However it all went wrong in the second stage on Sunday morning after a heavy impact under the car led to a loss of power steering fluid and his eventual retirement from the event after SS19.
It was another blow for the Spaniard and Prodrive, who had been hoping to fight for a podium. Furthermore, Sordo has admitted that the squad will be lucky to be able to battle it out for a top-six in Spain next month, although eight top-five times in Alsace - including two second quickest times on Sunday - did give cause for some encouragement.
“It was more difficult on the stages today, very wet and lots of standing water,” he reflected. ”With the low grip everything was much more even and speed was far more about the car and the driving style. We still need to find some more performance though, and we know what we must do.
“Everyone is improving and getting in the top six in Spain will be a challenge!” he added.
WTCC ace Yvan Muller meanwhile finished 14th on his 'guest' outing with the team, setting two top-five stages times on the final day.
“For the first two days in the dry, my notes have always underestimated the capability of the car, so today in the wet they were perfect! It's been a great experience, the car is great to drive but I need more mileage to fully use the potential of the car but every day I got more confident," Muller said. “In future I would need to do a rally beforehand and one day I would like to do another WRC event.”
"It was a really unfortunate way for Dani to exit the rally, as both his and Yvan's cars had run near faultlessly all weekend," summarised Prodrive WRC team principal, Dave Wilcock. “We knew how good we would be in low grip conditions, where the chassis balance is key, and both Dani's and Yvan's times proved that today. If it wasn't for the damage, Dani would have been challenging for our second power stage win of the year and I expect the fight for fourth would have gone down to the wire.
“It is clear the tarmac performance of all the cars and many of the drivers have moved on. We will continue our development programme to find more performance and head to Spain next month knowing that we will be in fight, with all the top six to eight drivers now capable of a podium finish.
“On a separate note, I would just like to congratulate Sebastien Loeb
on yet another title. He really is in a class of his own and having already established himself as the greatest rally driver of all time, must now arguably be the best driver of all time too.”