Meeke's misery in Italy ... Rally Italy got underway on Thursday evening with a super special stage held around the port of Cagliari before it resumed on Friday morning.
Overnight heavy storms had left the gravel roads especially slippery and the Citroen cars were shod with Michelin LTX Force H4 (hard) tyres! Perhaps not the best choice for conditions compared to those who had opted for a mix of hard and soft compounds.
Just 8 kms into the first stage, Kris Meeke’s day was cut short. He ran too wide on a blind corner and hit the outside of the road, breaking the left rear suspension of his DS 3 WRC.
Afterwards Kris commented: ”We knew that the first stage would be difficult. With the storms overnight, there were quite a few damp patches and it was very slippery. I didn’t have a good feeling. I made a first mistake, but got away with that one. I tried to concentrate more to find the right pace. But then we came over a blind crest into a corner and I ran wide, hitting the embankment on the outside of the bend as we exited. The suspension gave way and we had to call it a day. After two good steps forward in Argentina and Portugal, it’s a shame to be out of the race so quickly. It means we just need to keep working and that’s what we’ll endeavour to do tomorrow.”
Once repairs were effected he was allowed to rejoin the rally on Saturday under Rally2 regulations but had to run first car on the road and sweeping the loose gravel off the racing line.
Looking back on Saturday Kris concluded: “Today was an interesting experience for me. We were first on the road for the wrong reasons, but one day I hope to be in this situation as leader of the World Championship! This morning, above all we were looking to get a good feeling in the car after not driving for most of yesterday. Gradually, the feeling came and we set some pretty decent times. On the second runs, I was able to push hard as the racing line was already swept clean. Although we had a few minor issues with the gearshift selector, we had four good stages, with times similar to the guys who are fighting for the win.”
At the rally finish he added: “After a disastrous start to the race, rejoining under Rally2 rules yesterday was an interesting and rewarding experience. My times were pretty good, especially in the afternoon. Today was just about getting around and collecting some points for the team in the Manufacturers’ World Championship. We did just that and now I’ll switch my attention to Rally Poland. We know about the potential of the car and we’ve got a chance of getting a good result provided we work hard.”