‘It’s Bruno again. A lot’s happened since my last column and the rally hasn’t even started yet!
‘Our crews have just completed the Qualifying Stage without any problems, Armindo and Miguel are in a new car they hadn’t tested before so they took the two runs of Free Practice to find a good set-up for the weekend and then headed straight into the Qualifying Stage and choose to run second on the road. Paulo and Edu had a trouble-free and clean run and will set off later today at the front of the pack.
‘As you may have heard we had an ‘interesting’ test at the start of the week. After three runs through the stage, Armindo and Miguel clipped a large rock – typical of the Greek terrain – with the front right wheel of their MINI Countryman John Cooper Works WRC and flipped the car nose over end. It was quite dramatic, but fortunately the crew were unhurt. Having been working with Armindo now for five years, I can honestly say that this is the first time I’ve ever known him to have an accident like this on a test, but, we all know, that’s rally! Unfortunately, the car didn’t come out of it as well as the crew – it was a write off. It was action stations as our third car travelled here from Italy overnight arriving on Tuesday and the mechanics and the rest of the team worked night and day to be prepared for scrutineering on Wednesday to make sure we could start the rally without a hiccough.
‘Armindo and Miguel went for a check-up before recce and Armindo visited the physio to make sure his back was OK after the impact. They completed recce with no problems, determined to make up for the incident during the rally and focused on making the best pace notes possible – taking care to beware of every rock and mark out cuts where depending on the start order rocks might be revealed if the roads start to be worn away by cars in front of them.
‘Meanwhile, Paulo had a great test, drove just over 100km and increased his confidence and feel for the road throughout the day. With Paulo being a big supporter of Erechim Rally in Brazil which finished last weekend, part of his spirit was of course at home with his countrymen. Now he’s here in Greece as focused as ever on increasing the profile of rallying in Brazil and encourage everyone to understand exactly why he loves rally sport so much!
‘Last night Armindo had the opportunity to try his very own WRC Team MINI Portugal MINI in the third edition of the WRC video game saga during the pre-launch press event. It was great, he also had a lot of interviews with gaming press from all over Europe giving his feedback to improve the game before it’s release in October.
‘After some filming and a photoshoot this morning, the crews are now preparing to go to Athens for the Ceremonial Start where they will take part in a presentation of a one-of-a-kind signed WRC Team MINI Portugal bike alongside the other WRC manufacturers which will be auctioned during the rally to raise money to support the Hellenic Society for Disabled Children. The crews will then head straight to the first stage of the event from Athens.
Watch this space for more updates from WRC Team MINI Portugal, let’s hope for a good start to the Acropolis Rally!’