With one day to go Dani Sordo remains in sixth place in the WRC’s Rally Sardinia. Kris Meeke has rejoined the rally despite dropping out Friday. While he’s completely out of contention (and unable to score points due to WRC rules) he’s using the time to get better acquainted with the JCW Countryman. In all it’s not a bad debut of an entirely new team and entirely new car.

Official Release: The MINI WRC Team continued with its mixed fortunes at Rally Italy, but can only be happy about the learning process from its first WRC outing. Top quotes and pictures of the day …

Dani Sordo: “The day was not so bad. I am happy with the car and happier than yesterday as I have more confidence in the car. We have learnt a lot because this is our first rally for the car, we have done a lot of kilometres and also have a lot of information, which is what we came here to do. The performance of the MINI is good and we are really close to the car in front. Tomorrow I just try to finish the rally because there are some fairly difficult stages and the power stage left.”

Kris Meeke: “We developed a water leak on the way to stage ten. We tried to fix it but then in the stage it happened again, the engine temperature went up and we had to stop before we damaged the engine. We wanted to fix it to get going again tomorrow. It is a little bit unfortunate that I have not got into my stride yet, but that is part of the game. When you get to a rally you don’t have a second chance, you have to make it work for all three days and it just hasn’t.”

David Richards, Team Principal: “Everyone is asking the same question, which is how we feel about this first event for MINI. The natural thing is to focus on the performance or the reliability, but the thing I take away from this most of all is the extraordinary support we are getting from the fans. When people cheer for MINI when the cars go through the stages you realise what a passion there is for this car, and what an interest there is for what we have brought to the championship.”

Dave Wilcock, Technical Director: “For both drivers this morning we had a strategy just to see how we got on. The cars were in excellent conditions, so the initial plan was just to go out there and see what we could do and show they were competitive. The disappointing thing for Kris was in the first stage this morning we had a similar complaint to the response of his throttle. Not to the same extent but to the point where it was upsetting his driving, which he could control. But then on the second stage he developed a water leak, which put him out of the rally today. This was very disappointing for Kris.

For Dani just another strong performance from him today. He is extremely happy with the balance, the stability and the general feeling of the car, especially in the high speed sections where he is very excited and really enjoying them. He reported an issue with his throttle that had symptoms similar to those Kris experienced. Looking at the data it is a completely unrelated issue and we have replaced all the parts on Dani’s car. We have had a full service, everything is in tip top condition so for him it will be business as normal tomorrow. Kris is now doing the super rally again, which he was doing anyway, and now we will just try to get some mileage under his belt so we can get some experience for him. Hopefully we shall get both cars to the end.”

“The car is fantastic. Its performance really helped me,” said Dani as early as the third special stage of the day. Dani was also able to demonstrate the quality of the MINI John Cooper Works WRC with consistently fast times over the second half of the day.

The result is that Dani and co-driver Carlos del Barrio remain in sixth place overall and are full of confidence going into the third and final day of the Rally d’Italia Sardegna, which features the final four stages, including the Power Stage.

While all this was happening, the patience of Kris Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle was once again being tested. Kris had to stop as early as the second special stage of the day, as the car was leaking cooling water. Kris: “We are trying to solve the problem and start again on Sunday.”

World champion Sébastien Loeb continues to lead the Rally Italy in his Citroen. The Frenchman now has a lead of 28.3 seconds over second-placed Mikko Hirvonen.

While today’s excellent performances mean that Dani’s MINI John Cooper Works WRC will hardly be touched, the MINI WRC Team technicians will use the overnight break to repair Kris’s car ahead of the third day of the rally. Despite this, it will not be a long night for the team and drivers: the 8.24-kilometre special stage 15 (Gallura 1) gets underway at 06:50 on Sunday.