Monday 6 October 2014

Rally - Le Beau Meeke

Excellent news from France at the weekend. After Monte-Carlo, Argentina and Finland, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle claimed another podium finish at Rallye de France-Alsace in their DS3 WRC.

It wasn’t just the UK that had squally showers, the French counter in the WRC suffered too. The rain forecast for the final day persuaded both Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team crews it was best to opt for a mix of three soft and three hard compound tyres, whilst their rivals opted for a variety of choices with anything from five hard tyres only to four hard and two soft tyres.

Despite the large damp patches apparent at sunrise, at the start of SS15, the vast majority of the roads remained dry. Kris Meeke managed his pace to remain in third position and claim an important podium finish for the World Championship standings. Meanwhile, Mads Østberg spent the morning fighting for seventh place.

Alastair Fisher grabbed his first win of the season in the FIA Junior WRC in the DS3 R3, ahead of Eric Camilli and Quentin Giordano. Thanks to his fourth place finish, Stéphane Lefebvre finished fourth in the FIA Junior WRC round to secure this year’s title. He will drive a DS3 R5 next year in the WRC2 category!

Afterwards Kris Meeke commented: “We were on the pace right from the very start of the rally. We then focussed mainly on protecting our position. I feel we have been very consistent throughout the weekend and that’s what has helped us to pick up another podium finish. I think we can still improve and get some better results soon.”

Marek Nawarecki (Citroën Racing Deputy Team Principal) added: “Kris’ third place was important. He showed that he was quick and that he knew how to deliver a result. Mads’ rally was disrupted by a few technical issues. When he was feeling confident, he produced some fine performances.”

Over in the M-Sport camp there was another excellent result for young Elfyn Evans who finished in 6th place, a minute behind team mate Mikko Hirvonen: "We've had a really good day today and been strong on all of the stages,” said Elfyn, “It was a shame that we had the problem on Friday, but we've had a 100 per cent record with the car so far this year and we weren't going to let it get us down. The results haven't been our main focus this year, but I didn't want to let Mads [Østberg] get away without a fight and it feels good to have come away with the sixth place. Overall I think we've produced a very good performance this weekend and hopefully we can build on that in Spain where it would also be nice to show some more pace on gravel as I don't think we've shown our true potential on that surface just yet."

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said: "Mikko comes away with a strong fifth place which strengthens his fourth place in the drivers' championship. Elfyn has been absolutely sensational all weekend, but especially the last day. He set the second fastest time on all four of today's stages and proved that he certainly had the pace to be challenging for the podium. It was a shame that we had the electrical problem on Friday, but I was very impressed by the way he handled the situation. His mental strength is second to none. He coped well with the pressure today and came away with sixth place which keeps us in the fight for second place in the manufacturers' standings."

1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:38:19.1
2. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +44.8
3. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:05.3
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:48.7
5. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:00.7
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:00.8
7. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +3:02.5
8. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:08.4
9. Bryan Bouffier / Xavier Panseri (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:12.9
10. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6:07.5

21. Alastair FISHER/Gordon Noble (Citroën DS3 R3T), WRC3, +18:47.4
61. Timothy JONES /Steve Jones (Ford Fiesta R2) +54:48.5

Marty McCORMACK/James Morgan (Ford Fiesta R5) WRC2, retd accident SS2

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