The Abu Dhabi Total WRT will be in action on next weekend's Rally de Portugal (19-22 May), with Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau, and Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson once again sampling the delights of a pretty unique WRC round. Introduced to the WRC in 1973, the rally includes the notorious 'Fafe' stage with its huge jump which fans pack in their thousands to watch the cars speed by.
For the Abu Dhabi Total WRT team this will be its first gravel round of the season having missed out on Mexico and Argentina.
Although he has been away from competitive action, no one could accuse Kris Meeke of not keeping busy. Although he has been busy with development work on the 2017 World Rally Car he has taken part in the recce at all previous overseas rounds this year.
Following seven days of testing in the significantly more powerful and efficient 2017 car, Kris will have to start by finding his bearings again. Fourth here in 2015, he will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for a podium spot, as he was in Monte-Carlo and Sweden.
Commenting, Kris Meeke said: “I’m pleased to be back in a competitive environment. I was starting to miss it! I really like Rally de Portugal. Last year, we all had to get to grips with the new course, with some very enjoyable roads. I was challenging for the lead for a good part of the race, before finishing fourth overall. I also remember the enthusiasm and passion of the fans. The people of Northern Portugal love motorsport and especially rallying. You very quickly understand that this place is part of WRC folklore. The organisers did an incredible job in keeping the passion of the fans in check and the safety conditions were excellent."
"This year, the first challenge for me will be to get back into the swing of things with the car. The test session planned for Sunday should help me in that respect. As regards the rally itself, obviously I hope to be fighting at the front, but you have to be realistic. We still have a good car, but there are no more upgrades, whereas our rivals are still working hard to improve. I’ll be aiming to have an error-free rally and we’ll see where that puts us in the final standings. I know my starting position should help me. That’s just the way the regulations work, but it shouldn’t really bother anyone given that I’m not fighting for the championship this year.”