Mini WRC team withdraws from Rally Estonia due to testing damage

The Mini World Rally Team has withdrawn its entry from this weekend's Rally Estonia after it was found there was more damage to the test car than originally thought following Kris Meeke's accident earlier this week

Mini WRC team withdraws from Rally Estonia due to testing damage

Meeke had damaged the left-hand side of the WRC test car when he clouted a rock on Monday. The team re-prepared the car in time for the former Intercontinental Rally Challenge winner to return to the wheel later that day - and for his team-mate Dani Sordo to complete two further days of running - but it will not start in Estonia.

David Lapworth, technical director of Prodrive - which runs the Mini squad - said: "The team did a great job and we got a lot of testing done this week, but the car's not really pretty enough for us to send it to the start of an event.

"Kris found what appears to be Ayers Rock and the impact took the wheels off and damaged the sill on the left side of the car. While we were perfectly happy to get the car running again for the test, we wouldn't want to send it on an event like that [Estonia].

Lapworth added that the team's hectic schedule meant that it made sense to can the Northern Irishman's second competitive start.

"Don't forget, we're a small team," he said. "The same guys who are out on the test in Finland have to come back and prepare the [Rally] Finland event cars and build more, plus we've got to get the test car ready for more testing next week. We had to draw a line somewhere and say, 'Enough's enough', and we've done that. Unfortunately it means we won't go to Estonia."

Despite missing the event, Meeke still managed to secure time in the car on three different test roads.

"We ran Kris on the same road Dani was using when Dani came out of the car," added Lapworth. "One night we were running until 10pm, so we've certainly got through the kilometres with Kris."

The two drivers completed more than 450 miles of testing in the three days.

Meeke said: "Obviously I'm disappointed to be missing out on competitive event mileage before Rally Finland, but it's the team's decision."

Rally Estonia - a traditional warm-up event for the WRC's Rally Finland - has drawn some big names, with five-time world rally winner Markko Martin leading the field away in a 2003-specification Ford Focus. Rally Sweden runner-up Mads Ostberg starts close behind in his Fiesta RS WRC.

Rally Estonia starts from Otepaa tomorrow afternoon and finishes on Saturday evening after nine stages and 100 miles.

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