Over the weekend, Rally God Sebastien Loeb won the Rally d’Italia in Sardinia, his 63rd career win to reinforce his lead in standings, but what’s more interesting was that the MINI WRC had a very good debut rally. Kris Meeke put the red car as high as fourth on the opening day before a throttle glitch sent him off course, while Spaniard Dani Sordo in the other MINI finished in sixth place.

“I think we have shown the performance of the car. We have proved what we can do and I think it has set the mark and set the standard. I wish Kris could have carried on the way he was in the early stages. If he had carried on like that I think we would have been in a very strong position, but that is life, this is testing and we are learning as we go along,” said team boss David Richards.

“All signs are really encouraging and we have no real reliability problems at all that we are concerned about. We have to take a lot of positives from the event,” he glowed. MINI took home the Abu Dhabi Spirit of the Rally Award.

The Prodrive-run team will contest five more rounds of the championship this year. This half-programme is more for the development of the John Cooper Works WRC than to challenge Citroen and Ford immediately, and also to attract privateers and sponsors. Next year, the team is set to do the entire WRC season.