Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle finished fourth in the World Rally Championship’s four-day season finale in Wales, while their teammates Dani Sordo and Carlo del Barrio finished twentieth after crashing on Friday.
On day one of the rally, when only three stages were run, the two Mini WRCs finished fifth and sixth, Both cars fortunes worsened on Friday. Meeke was set back when an alternator belt failed. Time for repairs dropped the car to eleventh, but by the end of the day it was up to eighth, running fastest time on one stage along the way. Sordo left the road in an incident that took him out for the rest of the day. He was able return to the rally on Saturday under “SupeRally” rules, which allow competitors to resume competition after exiting in trade for a time penalty. (Text continues after photo)
Sordo was not the only one to crash out on Friday; Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen spun, punctured a radiator, and sustained engine damage; he was unable to continue. He had been the only driver with a change to take the title from Citroen’s Sebastian Loeb. With Hirvonen’s exit Loeb clinched his eighth straight WRC title.
Meeke moved up to fifth on day three despite running the early stages of the day with a broken engine mount, while Sordo, out of contention but back in the event, had a trouble-free day.
Meeke and Nagle had hoped to reach the podium at the end of the rally on Sunday, but a half-spin when Nagle hit a rut in the road meant that he had to settle for fourth.
Sebastien Loeb, running second and battling with the leading Ford of Jari-Matti Latvala, exited the event on the last day as a result of a collision with a spectator’s car that was going the wrong way on a rally road. Latvala went on to win his first rally of the season.
Mini WRC team principal David Richards said, “This event, like so many others, has had its ups and downs. Kris I am sure will reflect on that half spin on the last stage and what might have been, but there have been so many other occasions on the event when we could have also done a little bit better or had a bit better luck. At the end of the day when I look back on this rally and think where we have come in six months – Dani and Kris have achieved five top five positions in only six events – quite honestly the team has come of age and this is only just the beginning for the MINI WRC Team.”
The team can now continue its development efforts in anticipation of running a full season in 2012, beginning at Rally Monte Carlo in January.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.orgBack to News