MINI looks to sign-off with Spain success

WRC Team MINI Portugal is determined to end the 2012 season with success, as the team prepares to part ways with MINI which is pulling out of WRC.
Next weekend's Rally de España might part the end of MINI's works involvement in the World Rally Championship, but Bruno de Pianto - the team manager of WRC Team MINI Portugal - says that the team will be working hard to go out in style with success in the "unique" event.

"It might be the last event on this year's calendar, but as always we're approaching it head on with maximum focus!" said de Pianto.

He also explained what it was about the event that made it such a unique challenge for all the competitors: "It's the only event which runs on mixed surfaces," he said. "That means high pressure when we do the set-up switch Friday night.

"There will be a lot to change after the Day One gravel ready for the Day Two tarmac. We have a one hour fifteen minute service and everyone needs to be 100% committed and concentrated."

The changes the team will have to pull off in the limited turnaround time include the obvious tyres and rims, but the less-obvious under-the-hood changes to the gearbox, differential, dampers, springs, anti-roll bars, brakes and sump guard.

"The surface change change also means the drivers have to adapt their driving style overnight," added de Pianto.

Chris Atkinson will be back in action for the team along with co-driver Stephane Prevot, fresh from their success clinching the 2012 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship after their second place result at the China Rally Longyou last weekend was enough to clinch the title.

"While Chris was hightailing it around the world to scoop his first ever international title, we were in the workshop making some changes to his MINI," said de Pianto. "Chris has an idea of the rally's Tarmac stages from previous outings, but his last time competing in Spain was in 2008, so he's never tackled the mixed surface version of the event."

Paulo Nobre will be Atkinson's team mate in Spain, working with his co-driver Edu Paula.

"Paulo and Edu contested Rally de España last year and they're really looking forward to getting back in Porquinho Verde," said de Pianto. "Paulo's made great progress on Tarmac during the reason and little-by-little he's becoming more comfortable on it."

Before next weekend's race, the team will be doing everything it can to get to fine tune its campaign.

"We're testing on Monday so Chris and Paulo can both find the best set-up for their MINIs for the rally, said de Pianto. "Then it's all systems go to get ready for the Qualifying Stage and our first ever Ceremonial Start in Barcelona.

"One of the best things about Rally de España is the huge numbers of spectators on the stages - and I imagine Barcelona will be packed out too!" he added.

Related Pictures

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Chris Atkinson (AUS) Mini John Cooper Works Wrc Mini Portugal
Chris Atkinson and Stephane Prevot clinch the 2012 Asia Pacific Rally Championship title with second place on the China Rally Longyou
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