Prodrive: “Mixed fortunes on day 1 in Sweden”

As the Prodrive team heads to the final stage of day two of Rally Sweden, Patrik Sandell, competing in the MINI John Cooper Works WRC for the first time, lies in 8th place, 2 min 16 sec off the lead.  After starting the day in the rally lead, Dani Sordo was setting top six stage times all day in his Prodrive-prepared car, before hitting a snow bank on stage eight.  While he was able to continue, it appears the impact led to the drive belt coming off his engine.  Without the water pump, the engine began to overheat and the car went into a safe mode, but with no cooling Sordo eventually had to stop on the stage.  The team has inspected the car and Sordo will not be able to restart tomorrow.

Dave Wilcock team principal:

“Dani was driving very well this morning and setting some really good times particularly considering he missed this event last year. He was very happy with the car and was feeling very confident.  When I spoke to him at lunchtime, he was really looking forward to the afternoon stages.  Unfortunately he went off into a snow bank on stage eight and this knocked off the drive belt for the water pump and ultimately led to him having to stop on the stage.

“Patrik drove very steadily today and could have ended the day much closer or even ahead of Henning if we had decided to run him with two spare tyres on the afternoon stages.  While the studded Michelin tyres held up well on roads which had cut up badly with gravel coming through the surface, in these conditions he was always going to be at a disadvantage to everyone with 2 spare wheels.  Still tomorrow will suit him well, as there are some much faster stages and he feels particularly confident on these.”

Patrik Sandell #52:

“We have had a good day.  We were in a fight with Henning (Solberg) for much of the day, but I lost time over the last two stages as my tyres began to wear.  We decided to only take one spare this afternoon and this ended up costing me time on the final stage.  Still, the car has been fantastic and great fun to drive.  I have not been driving anywhere near my maximum pace and we will continue to build our speed through tomorrow and Sunday.”

Dani Sordo #37:

“I had a very good feeling this morning and the car was running really well.  We were setting some good times and this afternoon I felt we could continue to fight for a top five place.  I hit a snow bank and got some snow on the car and thought this was the problem with the engine getting hot, but it wasn’t and the belt driving the water pump had come off and we had to stop.  It is a real shame because I think we could have been challenging for a good position here.  The car and Michelin tyres were working well and we could have pushed a little more tomorrow.”