Friday 13 February 2015

Rally - Snowmageddon

If the Eskimos have over 50 words for ‘snow’ then they should have a word with Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke – he’ll be able to give them a few more after his adventures in Sweden today.

The Citroen driver finished just outside the top ten tonight at the end of the first full day of Rally Sweden having been lying in the top six earlier in the day. “The temperatures are creeping up and the snow banks are less hard. If you hit them at the wrong angle, you can get end up getting stuck. Today, it happened to others and to us as well”, said Kris, “On SS7, we lost around three minutes. My aim is to avoid making any mistakes, but this rally is really tough. Fortunately, we picked up the pace again quickly and I felt good again in the DS 3 WRC at the end of the day.”

Prior to the rally, conditions were looking good, until an expected mild spell changed the nature of the stages. The warmer temperatures meant less snow and more humidity, handing an advantage to the early starters on the stages. On Thursday night’s opening test, this theory was confirmed when Pontus Tidemand took full advantage of his starting position to win the stage, beating all of the WRCs in his WRC2 Ford Fiesta!

This morning, the thin layer of ice covering the roads at sunrise was gradually chipped away as crews completed the stages, leaving patches of gravel exposed on the racing line. Mads Østberg attempted to keep pace with his main rivals by setting a series of top-four times. Running eighth, Kris Meeke had to contend with even less consistent conditions. Sixth after SS6, he lost almost three minutes when he got stuck in a snow bank in this afternoon’s second loop.

Mads Østberg commented: “We had a good rhythm this morning, but we expected to see the early starters set very good times. This afternoon, we managed to claw back a few seconds in the first few stages. Then there was an incident on a high-speed section on SS8, with a spectator walking on the racing line. It cost us something like ten seconds. We’re only 19 seconds behind the leaders, so we’re going to push!”

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