Citroën edges closer to securing second place in the Manufacturers’ World Championship
Meeke and Østberg ended day two in third and fourth positions
Wales Rally GB revealed another side to its character today, as the crews tackled narrower, drier roads in the north of the country. The conditions gave the DS3 WRC crews the chance to showcase their talents.
As they fought for third position in the overall standings, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg profited from Jari-Matti Latvala’s off to move up a place on the first stage of the day.
Among the frontrunners throughout the morning, Kris Meeke returned to midday service in third place, less than a second behind Mikko Hirvonen.
Holding a podium spot after SS11, Mads Østberg was then handed a ten-second penalty for checking in late at the start of the next stage and saw his team-mate move back ahead of him.
In the afternoon, the duel between Hirvonen and Meeke intensified. Kris claimed a stage win on Clocaenog East 2 (SS14) to grab second place. A spin near the end of the second night stage meant he held third place as the cars were driven into parc ferme. However, since he is only 3.4 seconds behind Hirvonen, the fight is far from over.
A tyre problem cost Mads Østberg around twenty seconds on SS16. He ended the day in fourth position.
Tenth in the WRC2 at the halfway stage of the rally, Stéphane Lefebvre’s learning experience at Wales Rally GB came to an end on SS14.
In the FIA Junior WRC, Alastair Fisher controlled from the front in his DS3 R3. He moved closer to a second consecutive win as he ended day two ahead of Martin Koči and Simone Tempestini.
The final leg of the rally features six stages. With no service periods, the crews will set off at 7.05am to tackle the final 46 kilometres of timed stages. The second pass on Brenig will serve as the Power Stage at 12.00pm, before the crews head to Llandudno for the last podium ceremony of the season at 1.19pm.
Kris Meeke: “We really enjoyed the stages. The roads were magnificent, especially on the night stages. It’s a great fight with Mikko. I really pushed today, but a couple of minor mistakes cost us a few seconds. The aim is still to secure second place in the championship for Citroën. And I want to keep learning for the future.”
Mads Østberg: “Once again, we were very fast in the morning loop. On SS16, the tread on the rear left-hand tyre became really worn on a very quick section. We continued to drive for another four or five kilometres, trying to not break anything and lose as little time as possible. Tomorrow, we’ll have to defend our position. I know we’ll need to push again.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS9 – Clocaenog East 1 (8.25km) – Having rejoined under Rally2 rules, Andreas Mikkelsen was first on the road and began the day with a stage win. Jari-Matti Latvala lost more than three minutes after he went off the road. Kris Meeke moved up into third place, ahead of Mads Østberg in fourth.
SS10 – Cloceanog Main 1 (13.74km) – Another fastest time for Mikkelsen, ahead of Meeke. Østberg clocked the fourth-fastest time on the stage.
SS11 – Aberhirnant 1 (13.87km) – Andreas Mikkelsen kept his run going with a third stage win. Second fastest on SS11, Mads Østberg took third position overall from his team-mate, Kris Meeke.
SS12 – Dyfnant 1 (19.98km) – On the day’s longest test, Mads Østberg almost matched the lead time set by Mikkelsen. However, a ten-second penalty for checking in late at the start meant he dropped down to fourth. Cheered on at “Irish Corner” where a large number of his supporters had gathered, Kris Meeke regained third place.
SS13 – Chirk Castle (2.06km) – This special ‘rallyfest’ tarmac stage gave Henning Solberg a rare opportunity to set a fastest time. Meeke and Østberg remained third and fourth overall.
SS14 – Clocaenog East 2 (8.25km) – Kris Meeke claimed a stage win to move into second position in the overall standings, just ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Østberg.
SS15 – Cloceanog Main 2 (13.74km) – Mikko Hirvonen immediately reclaimed second place with the stage win. Kris Meeke remained just 3.3 seconds adrift, whilst Mads Østberg was 14.7 seconds behind.
SS16 – Aberhirnant 2 (13.87km) – Andreas Mikkelsen took another stage win. Slowed by a damaged tyre in the latter part of the test, Mads Østberg lost over twenty seconds. The gap between Hirvonen and Meeke nudged up to 4.5 seconds.
SS17 – Dyfnant 2 (19.98km) – Jari-Matti Latvala went fastest on the day’s final stage. Kris Meeke finished with the third fastest time, cutting Mikko Hirvonen’s lead in third to 3.4 seconds. Mads Østberg defended his fourth position ahead of the final leg.
More on WRC