Fair play to Dani Sordo for bringing his Mini Countryman WRC to the finish of this weekend’s Rally d’Italia Sardinia, scoring points on the brand’s return to top-flight motorsport
Sordo took a steady approach to the event, admitting, “I’ve been driving like my grandmother sometimes.” But it was a plan that worked, as the experienced Spaniard racked up the miles and gave Mini’s motorsport partner, Prodrive, gigabytes of useful data to take away for analysis.
Briton Kris Meeke was less fortunate - although he managed to steal the headlines anyway, by holding a remarkable fourth overall on the opening morning before a sticking throttle intervened.
The Minis both ran with ‘heritage’ numbers - 37 and 52, which were carried by Monte Carlo-winning cars back in the 1960s. A nice touch, perhaps, but modern motorsport doesn’t have much room for history. So it’s encouraging to hear from Prodrive chairman David Richards that a more modern approach is planned from now on.
“We’re going to really push the envelope on branding,” said DR. “We could run different liveries on each car on every rally, and ‘launch’ the colour scheme in the capital city of each country about a month before the event [that’s likely to mean a presence in London in mid-October]. We’ll start by revealing our main sponsor in Helsinki, ahead of Rally Finland.”
And the numbers? “We’ll revert back to regular ones. For this rally, it was important to be corporate, be ‘Mini’, and it’s a nice tribute to pay to the company’s heritage. But we have to look forwards at every opportunity.”