Kris and Dani were visibly relaxed as they climbed out of their MINI John Cooper Works WRC cars with the legendary numbers 37 and 52 after the shakedown at the Rally Italy. The car’s first WRC outing confirmed the promise it had shown during the months of preparations carried out by the team.

The “Ceremonial Start” takes place this evening on Olbia’s waterfront, with the first car officially getting the race underway at 20:00. Dani and Kris will follow in positions five and six. The first of the 242.8-kilometre long rally’s 18 stages begins early on Friday morning.

Dani and Kris, along with co-drivers Carlos del Barrio and Paul Nagle, have prepared meticulously for the task facing them. They used the two-day “Recce” to check the route and familiarise themselves with its characteristics and features. Carlos and Paul made hundreds of pages of pace notes, which they then fine-tuned for every distinctive point on the course.

“We have a great challenge ahead of us,” says Kris. “Particularly because we must immediately cover more than 130 timed kilometres on day one with only a remote service.” The team will use the time leading up to the start on Friday morning to compare the pace notes with the video recordings made during the “Recce”. In the meantime, engineers will fine-tune technical aspects on the MINI John Cooper Works for the final time.

“Our drivers and team members are all thoroughbred motorsport fanatics,” says Dr. Kay Segler, head of MINI Brand Management since 1st May. “Although this is the first year for MINI in the WRC, everyone wants to achieve as much as is physically possible. Once we have our first outings behind us we will know where we stand and what areas we need to invest more work in. I am certain, however, that we will learn very quickly and experience a thrilling season.”

David Richards’ team already has already come through an exciting phase. “We have two years of intensive development and testing behind us,” says the team principal of the MINI WRC Team. “It will be a historic moment for all involved when we stick the famous start numbers 37 and 52 on the car doors and go head-to-head with the opposition for the first time.”

Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo are in action at 08:00 in Sardinia, and will familiarise themselves with the conditions at the Rally d’Italia Sardegna at the official shakedown, which sees them take on a 2.5 kilometre course in Monte Pino, near Olbia. 340 kilometres of stages stand between the MINI WRC Team and the finish on Sunday.

[Source: MINI ]