Dani Sordo claimed six fastest stage times in the Rally Portugal, including winning the final powerstage, in the Banbury-built Prodrive Mini John Cooper Works WRC.

Sordo finished the event in 12th place in a car that featured more than 100 modifications, including a more powerful engine and new Ohlins gravel dampers, helping him to finish in first or second place or more than half of the stages he completed.

Meanwhile, his team-mate Patrik Sandell, competing for only the second time in the Mini WRC, was running as high as fourth on day three, before a suspension problem dropped him back down the field.

He returned for day four and was again showing strong pace before he went off the road on stage 21 and retired.

Dave Wilcock, team principal, said: “Dani’s drive on the powerstage was just excellent in those conditions.

“It has capped a rally that we generally have to be very pleased with, in spite of the overall finishing positions, because it has shown the world that the Mini WRC now has the pace to win on gravel as well as tarmac. “Patrik was doing tremendously well to run as high as fourth and it was bitterly disappointing for him to have to retire on day three.

“Still he continues to mature and the experience will do him no end of good as he continues his development as a WRC driver.”

Sordo said: “I am really happy to win the powerstage, it is a great way to finish the rally. I have had some really good moments on this rally and I have a lot of confidence in the car and the performance is fantastic.

“I can’t wait until we compete again as I think, with more luck on our side, we now have a real opportunity to do something very special with this car.”

Sandell said: “My target for this event was to finish in the top five and until yesterday afternoon, I was beating this. I am really disappointed to have not finished the event, but that is rallying and the conditions here were very tricky.

“I have got more and more confident in the car and my pace has been good all weekend, particularly on Saturday and this morning. Having seen the speed of Dani in the new car, I cannot wait to try it for myself.”