Mixed first day for Nikara

Making his debut in a World Rally Car after only 50 km of tarmac practice, Jarkko Nikara immediately showed his potential in the Mini John Cooper Works WRC by setting three top ten stage times and ending Friday in eighth position overall in the Rally Spain.

The Finnish driver was fastest on the opening day in stages one, two and three respectively, as he made the most of his early start position and the soft compound Michelin tyres. Rain fell far earlier and much heavier than anyone had expected, meaning the gravel stages cut up as each car passed.

The muddy and slippery conditions caught out many drivers, including Dani Sordo, who went off the road early in stage three as he braked for a right hand corner. Although the car was undamaged, Sordo was too far down a slope to reverse back on to the stage.

The first two stages in the afternoon were a repeat of the long morning stages. As conditions worsened, Nikara took them more cautiously but late on stage five he suffered a puncture and the further misfortune of the car falling off the jack while changing the wheel. This cost him around four minutes and dropped him from sixth to tenth place.

More rallying in this week’s Banbury Guardian.