Kris Meeke has praised the Mini team for building a car which "put a smile" on his face throughout today's opening loop of Rally Germany stages.
The Northern Irishman is just 17 seconds behind his teammate Dani Sordo, with the two John Cooper Works WRCs running fourth and fifth on the asphalt debut of the Prodrive-built car.
"It's a fantastic feeling to be driving this car down these roads," said Meeke. "I can tell you, I've had a big smile on my face all day, it's been mega. The team have done a great job with the car."
Beyond running the wrong tires in the rain on stage two, Meeke's only gripe came on the day's final stage, when the car began cutting out, causing him to spin and drop eight seconds.
"That was frustrating," he said, "but running fifth here is probably more than I expected. At the back of your mind, you always want a little bit more, but I'm really pleased with the way things have gone. The guys will have a look at the engine thing tonight and we'll have it sorted for tomorrow."
Meeke was particularly pleased at the pace he was showing against his more experienced teammate.
"Dani has finished second here plenty of times," said Meeke. "And the only driver who could beat him was Sebastien Loeb, so to be so close – and we would have been closer without that spin on the last stage – I'm happy."
Meeke and Sordo set exactly the same time on the final stage, with the former Intercontinental Rally Challenge champion having posted Mini's best effort – third quickest on SS4.