Ciao a tutti,
‘Bruno here again to tell you all about WRC Team MINI Portugal’s first full day at the Acropolis Rally. It was a tremendously long day and I’m so glad we got through it with both cars in once piece and everyone still smiling!
‘The teams’ alarms went off quite early this morning (about 4.45am!) Paulo’s MINI was the first car to leave the service park to head north at 6am immediately followed by Armindo’s. After first service and a quick breakfast it was time to pack up and head to Itea for Remote Service. Today’s itinerary featured five stages divided by not one, which is a big enough challenge, but two Remote Services in Itea. This meant the cars had to survive more than 100km of competition with only limited checks allowed. Everybody knows how tough the Acropolis is and if you can only carry on limited repairs to the cars, things suddenly become even more difficult – a small mistake can cost you a lot. Armindo and Paulo did a fantastic job as they both brought their MINIs dust-laden, but without even a scratch. This is no mean feat after running first and second on the road, hacking through the Greek dust and avoiding extreme boulders in incredible heat! Of course, Paulo being so good-natured, he reassures us that it’s a challenge wherever you are running on the road, so first or last you just have to dig in and do the best job you can. If first on the road is the biggest challenge, then he’s ready for it! As for Armindo, well for a long as we’ve been working together, I’ve never known him do anything other that take stock of the job in hand and get it done as professionally as possible!
‘Fortunately for the crews and us our hospitality guys were waiting for them as soon as they hit Itea ready for their very own refuel before they headed back out to recommence their battle against the rough and tough Greek stages!! After the second Remote Service the team made their way back to the main Service Park in Loutraki, where Armindo and Paulo retuned after completing three more stages – totaling 169.12km of Special Stages today. The mechanics checked both MINIs during Flexi Service to make sure they were spot on to tackle tomorrow’s stages.
‘My crews did a good job today, both of them completed the day without major problems facing extremely difficult conditions. I’m equally proud of the work the rest of the team carried out, everybody is working long hours and always giving their best. The fact that everyone in the team gets on so well and knows when to share a joke as well as when to knuckle down helps everyone a lot. We’re from around the world – Italy and Portugal of course, but also Brazil, Britain and Ireland and it’s really incredible to see how close everyone’s already become during the first half of the season, creating our own ‘MINI family’!
‘That’s all for today, tomorrow is another long day and there’s a lot more twists and turns to come – I’m sure! For now our focus is on survival, getting the best result we can and enjoying the fantastic Acropolis.
Bruno De Pianto