Citroën: The DS3 WRCs bunched at the front

Rally España


By Olivier Ferret

24 October 2015 - 20:55
Citroën: The DS3 WRCs bunched at the (...)

On Friday evening, the cars headed back to service in gravel configuration. The WRCs took it in turns to undergo a complete transformation, with suspension, brakes and wheels all changed specifically for tarmac in the space of 75 minutes. When, at 11.23pm, Khalid Al Qassimi’s DS 3 WRC rolled into Parc Ferme, another rally could begin.

This morning, the crews’ aim was to get up to pace on the tarmac as quickly as possible. Mads Østberg managed to stay in the top five at the start of the day, whilst Kris Meeke closed on his team-mate.

The Northern Irishman moved up from eighth to sixth position, ending the morning 11.6 seconds behind Mads. During the second loop, Kris Meeke continued to cut the gap until he eventually moved ahead of Mads Østberg on the final stage of the day, contested on the Salou sea front. Both DS 3s ended the leg in the top six.

For Khalid Al Qassimi, the switch to asphalt provided an opportunity to get a good feeling in the car again. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team driver also moved up the standings. After collecting a penalty yesterday when repairs carried out between stages meant he arrived late at a time control, he gained five places today to take him back up to 17th overall.

Stéphane Lefebvre had a less successful day. He suffered a brake problem just after leaving service this morning, forcing him to retire before he had even started the opening stage. The talented young Frenchman will rejoin the rally tomorrow.

In the FIA Junior WRC category, Quentin Gilbert relinquished first position to Simone Tempestini after a puncture on SS11. The Italian then picked up a puncture of his own on SS13, handing the advantage back to the Frenchman. Already certain to be crowned JWRC champion at the end the season, Quentin Gilbert completed day two ahead of Terry Folb and Simone Tempestini.

Six stages and 76.40 kilometres are left to go tomorrow, with no service or tyre changes allowed. The Power Stage, Duesigües 2, will begin at 12.08pm and the rally is due to finish from 1.41pm.


Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Another rally started today. The aim was to help our drivers to be on the pace quickly. Mads and Kris kept improving throughout today’s first leg on tarmac and I think we can be pretty pleased this evening. It’s vital that both drivers make it to the finish and hold their positions to score the points.”

Mads Østberg: “We had to find the right feeling in the car this morning. With the team, we managed to improve the set-up so that we had a better balance for the second loop. I just made a little mistake on the final stage. We fought hard throughout the leg for every second and then we go and lose three by stalling just before the end of the day. It’s frustrating, but overall, I think we can be pretty happy with the day.”

Kris Meeke: “We played with the set-up of the car today to find the right balance for tarmac. It’s almost like driving on a racetrack here, so the slightest change to the set-up can have a dramatic effect on the overall handling of the car. The final stage was very encouraging. We have to maintain that pace and try to bring home as many points as possible tomorrow!”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “I love driving on tarmac. Throughout the day, I tried to find the right balance between not taking risks and enjoying myself in the DS 3 WRC. When there was dust on the road, I was more cautious and when the racing line was clean, I pushed more.”


SS10 – Porrera (7.43km) – The first stage contested in gravel configuration. Sébastien Ogier won the stage, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. First on the road, Lorenzo Bertelli went off in the opening few kilometres. Kris Meeke was seventh fastest, moving ahead of Hayden Paddon in the overall standings, whilst Mads Østberg was eleventh on the stage. Stéphane Lefebvre didn’t make it to the start of the stage after a brake problem forced him to retire as he left service.

SS11 – La Figuera 1 (26.26km) – Whilst Sébastien Ogier claimed another stage win, with Robert Kubica second, Ott Tanak went off the road. So, although Andreas Mikkelsen moved ahead of Mads Østberg, the Norwegian remained fifth overall. Kris Meeke gained another position to move just behind his team-mate.

SS12 – Poboleda 1 (10.63km) – Jari-Matti Latvala suffered a puncture, dropping from second to fourth, leaving Sébastien Ogier clear in front with a lead of more than fifty seconds over Dani Sordo. Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke remained in fifth and sixth positions. Khalid Al Qassimi moved up a place in the overall standings.

SS13 – Capafonts 1 (19.80km) – Before the midday service, Jari-Matti Latvala interrupted Sébastien Ogier’s series of stage wins. Kris Meeke closed again on Mads Østberg whilst Elfyn Evans went off when running in ninth position.

SS14 – La Figuera 2 (26.26km) – Jari-Matti Latvala started the afternoon by winning the longest stage of the day. Andreas Mikkelsen grabbed the third fastest time to move into second place and ahead of Dani Sordo. Kris Meeke closed to within 6.3 seconds of Mads Østberg, whilst holding off a fightback from Hayden Paddon. Khalid Al Qassimi gained another position.

SS15 – Poboleda 2 (10.63km) – Stage win for Sébastien Ogier, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen. No change in the overall standings.

SS16 – Capafonts 2 (19.80km) – Jari-Matti Latvala won the stage to move ahead of Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen in the overall standings and reclaim second position, 53.2 seconds behind Sébastien Ogier. Kris Meeke set the fourth fastest time to cut Mads Østberg’s lead to 1.4 seconds ahead of the leg’s final stage.

SS17 – Salou (2.24km) – Joint stage win for Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville, with Kris Meeke just 0.1 seconds adrift. Mads Østberg stalled at a junction, allowing his team-mate to grab fifth overall by just 1.5 seconds. Sébastien Ogier ended the day ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo. Khalid Al Qassimi completed the leg in 17th overall.


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