MINI’s World Rally Championship team, despite it being their first time competing, were dead-set on placing in this year’s race. Going into the final stretch, the team’s lofty goals appeared within reach, even right up until the finish. Although MINI ended up placing fourth, they finished just behind the third place winner.

For those driving a used MINI, Winter Park motorists, and MINI fans worldwide, this was viewed as a strong effort, especially for a freshman team. Their dreams were dashed only by a road hazard. Kris Meeke, one of MINI’s drivers, started out 45 seconds behind the third place car. For most, that would’ve been an impossible divide to close. However, by the final stage of the day, Meeke had whittled down the gap to an impressive 1.8 seconds.

As known by drivers of a certified used MINI, Lakeland fans included, it was a rogue rut that caused Meeke to spin out and lose valuable time. If not for that hazard, MINI might’ve taken its spot on the podium.

Even so, the narrow defeat underscores how close this first-time team came to winning. The automaker and fans alike are incredibly proud of them.

According to Meeke, “I feel very positive about the season…for a new car and a new team to be in there challenging for podiums is fantastic.”