Citroën: Important points ahead of the final round
At the start of this, the final day of Rally Catalunya, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg’s aim was to hold onto their positions in the top six of the overall standings.
Both Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers initially held firm, despite coming under pressure from Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon early on in the morning. Kris Meeke then lost a few seconds with a spin on SS19, allowing Mads Østberg to retake fifth place from the Northern Irishman.
During this final leg, with no service breaks or tyres changes allowed, good race management was vital. By consistently finishing in the top six in the last four stages, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg ensured the final standings remained unchanged.
The Power Stage saw Kris Meeke score an extra point for the Drivers’ championship by grabbing the third fastest time. The rally leader Sébastien Ogier’s off meant all of the finishers moved up a place. Mads Østberg therefore finished fourth overall, one place ahead of Kris Meeke.
In the third car entered by the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, Khalid Al Qassimi made it to Salou without any mistakes. He finished in 16th position on his final outing of the year in the DS 3 WRC.
Having rejoined this morning under Rally 2 rules in order to get his first experience on tarmac at this year’s Rally Catalunya, Stéphane Lefebvre was able to continue learning at World level with the DS 3 WRC.
In their DS 3 R3-MAXs, Quentin Gilbert secured a fifth win in the FIA Junior WRC ahead of Terry Folb and Simone Tempestini. Already certain to end the season as FIA Junior WRC champion*, Quentin Gilbert will now go up against Simone Tempestini for the FIA’s WRC3 title at the forthcoming Wales Rally GB.
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “This event was very important at this stage of the season. Both our drivers managed their race perfectly by keeping in mind how vital it was to score points for the manufacturers’ championship. The rally wasn‘t easy, because the pace was very high, but we have strengthened our hold on second place in the championship with both DS 3 WRCs finishing in the top five. We’ll now turn our attention to Wales Rally GB, with its very special surface, where we will aim to finish the job!”
Mads Østberg: “We made a very good start on Friday. We were one of the quickest crews on gravel, despite our road position. Unfortunately a puncture on the longest stage meant we lost a lot of time. I think we were also very competitive on tarmac. Our performances during today’s final leg showed that. I am now really looking forward to the start of Wales Rally GB!”
Kris Meeke: It was a fairly strange weekend. With no experience on the gravel stages, I wasn’t really on the pace on Friday and we lost time on some of our rivals. On tarmac, with different tyres to last year, I didn’t have a very good feeling in the car. The result is still positive for the team. It‘s now up to us to finish the season on a high at the final rally in Wales.”
Khalid Al Qassimi: “We found the right balance to be able to drive at a steady pace. Although I would have liked to push more, we had to remain reasonably cautious to keep out of trouble. We lost a lot of time due to the handbrake problem on day one, but we managed to repair it and keep going. The team worked really hard.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS18 – Els Guiamets 1 (6.80km) – Andreas Mikkelsen set the fastest time, finishing ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier. Sixth and seventh fastest times for Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg, whilst Thierry Neuville moved into seventh overall on his own, behind the two Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers.
SS19 – Pratdip 1 (19.30km) – Thierry Neuville span, dropping a place in the overall standings. In front, Andreas Mikkelsen secured another stage win. Kris Meeke also had a spin, allowing Mads Østberg the chance to grab fifth place. Khalid Al Qassimi moved up a place into sixteenth overall.
SS20 – Duesaigües 1 (10.63km) – Jari-Matti Latvala claimed the stage win as he came under pressure for second place from his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen. Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg both finished in the top five on this stage to move over two seconds clear of Hayden Paddon.
SS21 – Els Guiamets 2 (6.80km) – Jari-Matti Latvala picked up a puncture, dropping 9 seconds and relinquishing second place to Andreas Mikkelsen. Sébastien Ogier finished second on the stage, ahead of Kris Meeke.
SS22 – Pratdip 2 (19.30km) – Jari-Matti Latvala claimed another stage win to move within 1.4 seconds of Andreas Mikkelsen in the overall standings, still over 50 seconds behind the rally leader Sébastien Ogier. Kris Meeke was second to close on fifth-placed Mads Østberg. Thierry Neuville went off the road, losing five minutes in the process.
SS23 – Duesaigües 2 (10.63km) – Sébastien Ogier retired within sight of the finish after crashing on the Power Stage. Andreas Mikkelsen won the final stage, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke, to take overall victory, as Jari-Matti Latvala finished as runner-up and Dani Sordo was third. Mads Østberg finished fourth overall whilst Kris Meeke was fifth. The stage was cancelled following Ogier’s crash.
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