Prodrive's Paul Howarth says Daniel Oliveira's early retirement from the Jordan Rally was a precautionary measure. The Brazil World Rally Team driver reported seeing water on the windshield of his Mini John Cooper Works S2000 after the first stage and when the car's water pressure fell, Howarth instructed Oliveira to switch the car off.
"The problem was caused by a water pipe which has failed," said Howarth. "It's possible the guys could have fixed it and carried on, but there was no point in risking the engine, so they turned it off and brought it in here. We've fixed it and we'll be ready for tomorrow."
Howarth admitted the cause of the problem remained a mystery, saying: "There had been impacts with some big rocks in that stage, but we don't know yet. We have sorted the problem out and we'll go again tomorrow."
The rally-opening Suwayma stage was Oliveira's first time driving the Mini in competition since the Rally of Portugal after he missed shakedown yesterday due to the team working on the car to prepare it for the start.
"The car came straight from Portugal to here," said Howarth. "And, obviously, there was rebuild time in the original schedule, but when the boat was delayed, that time went out of the window and we had to work on the car yesterday afternoon."
Oliveira was 22nd fastest through the first stage, just over a minute down on Citroen WRC driver Sebastien Loeb's benchmark for the eight-mile opener.