Hi everyone, it’s Armindo here! This weekend WRC Team MINI Portugal was at MINI United in Le Castellet in the south of France. I’ve never been to an event quite like it before. It’s a huge festival full of fans and representatives from all over the world of MINI automotive and motorsport programmes. Every car you see is a MINI in any shape and colour and there was racing – amateur and professional – on the famous Circuit Paul Ricard as well as live music concerts in the evening. The atmosphere was incredible, everyone was really positive all weekend and the weather was phenomenally hot.
The circuit grounds were divided into different zones and WRC Team MINI Portugal was in the motorsport zone representing MINI’s participation in the WRC. We did a live service for the fans to show them exactly how intense it can be on a WRC event and that we all have to be ready to handle the unpredictable and work as hard and fast as possible. Lots of the fans were surprised by the noise and power of the MINI Countryman John Cooper Works engine!
I arrived Friday and possibly the highlight of that day was getting to try one of the ‘Meet Your MINI’ cars out. The ‘Meet Your MINI’ stunt drivers let me, Patrik Sandell and Dakar winner Stéphane Peterhansel take their seats for a while and try out their specially modified tyres, which are perfectly safe, but make normal road MINIs slide and spin like you wouldn’t believe! You had to be quite gentle and precise with the cars to control them as they drifted over the Tarmac. If you tried to push flat out, you could easily have lost control. I also liked the outdoor exhibition of one-off ‘special’ MINIs. These included a MINI stretch limousine, a MINI campervan and my favourite a MINI made to look like a hotel! My official programme had finished by 8pm each day, but there was so much happened in the evenings that I stayed at the circuit for the rock concerts. Iggy Pop on Friday night and Gossip on Saturday brought the house down!
We got to catch up with everyone from MINI Motorsport who had helped put together this fantastic and unique event. On the road in and out of the circuit nearly every car I saw was a MINI and people had travelled from as far as New Zealand especially for the event. Although it was great to meet fans from all over the world, I was especially please to see the guys from MINI Portugal and MINI Spirit, the MINI car club at home in Portugal. Incredibly, the guys from MINI Latvia and Lithuania even came in traditional costume [pictured] – but they weren’t scared to get involved and loved coming and seeing how the WRC operation works!
Now it’s back home to prepare for Acropolis Rally of Greece next week. I can’t wait! See you soon.
Source: Motorsport Italia