‘It’s Céline again and we’re at the end of the first full day of competition here at Rallye de France, a positive day for WRC Team MINI Portugal which saw Atko and Paulo successfully completing every single Special Stage.
‘Today’s itinerary featured a Remote Service in Colmar – 80km from Strasbourg – where only limited repairs on the cars are allowed. Catering operations are a bit different on Remote Service days compared to normal as we have to work on the logistics and on the preparation of the lunch boxes rather than focusing on the cooking.
‘The menu is much simpler compared to when we’re at the main Service Park because even if we move the catering to the RSZ we don’t have the same material that we have in the main kitchen so we pre-prepare everything and when we get there it’s just a matter of distributing the meals to team members. We have a couple of different options for the drivers based on their personal tastes and diets.
‘Lunch boxes normally include some sandwiches, a salad, chips, fruit, a dessert and a selection of drinks is available. We choose simple and easy to eat food which we can transport from one side to the other. We try to prepare the basics the day before we have to go to the Remote Service so that in the morning we only have to do the final touches and load the car ready to go.
‘I enjoy going to Remote Services and seeing the rally from a different perspective. It’s very interesting to understand how the team works on a simplified service, with less material and less time. Basically, the catering works in the same way as we adapt the team’s process of Remote Service to the kitchen – it’s simpler and quicker when at Remote!
‘Also as normal we all arrive in advance so it’s always a good opportunity to get to know the other team members when we have some time to kill while waiting for Atko and Paulo to arrive.
‘Atko’s morning was quite intense. He took his pace notes as he always does but he didn’t have complete conviction in the corners. However, I’m sure the team will find a good solution and he’ll be back on form in no time. Nobody could predict the weather conditions today – as was made clear by more or less every different combination of tyre choices being selected this morning but all of them seeming to be more or less equally effective. That meant that Atko’s set-up was probably too hard for some sections but worked well in others. The main thing was needing more grip as the roads were quite dirty – especially after a few cars in front had passed through – and even with the weather being sunny and warm, the moisture on the stages was still on the road.
‘Atko chose a different set-up solution for the afternoon to try to find more grip but as the mechanics could only carry out limited work on the MINI, the main changes will be done tonight at Flexi Service to be ready to tackle tomorrow’s stages.
‘Meanwhile, Paulo had a solid and consistent day out on the stages. He was very happy with what he did today and that he felt quite confident in some stages and pushed quite hard for him. He got an amazing reaction from the crowd on one hairpin in SS3 when he sounded his horn as he pulled his hand brake. He also mentioned how difficult the conditions were with the roads being dirty making it very easy to have a moment. However, he’s pretty satisfied especially because Tarmac is not his favorite surface but he’s making big steps forward.
‘Well, I have to go and feed my crews now – I bet they’re very hungry after a day out in the stages! Romain is already on alert to cook Atko’s fish and he already has Paulo’s steak on stand-by ready to put on the grill!
‘Tomorrow is another long day and I’m looking forward to it even though I won’t get a lot of sleep – but rallying is so exciting that it’s easy to forget that you’re tired when the action starts.
‘Talk to you soon,
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