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Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle and Citroën grab podium spot in Argentina

Ostberg dropped out of the rally after SS12

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By Olivier Ferret

11 May 2014 - 23:23
Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle and Citroën (...)

 Third at Rallye Monte-Carlo at the start of the season, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle claimed another podium finish in their Citroën DS3 WRC at Rally Argentina.
 Carrying a hand injury, Mads Østberg dropped out of the rally after SS12.
 With this fourth podium finish in five events, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team consolidated its second place in the World Rally Championship Manufacturers’ standings.

Having hurt his hand with a kick-back through the steering on SS9 yesterday afternoon, Mads Østberg began today’s leg trying to drive through the pain barrier. However, with his injury preventing him from racing properly, the Norwegian decided – with the agreement of the team – to retire after SS12.

With a firm grip on third position since Friday, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle pursued their clearly-defined strategy of avoiding making any mistakes to secure their second podium finish of the season in the Citroën DS3 WRC.

Following this, the fifth round of the WRC, Mads Østberg shares third place (on 48 points) in the World Rally Championship Drivers’ standings. Kris Meeke’s podium finish moves him up to sixth position, with 32 points. The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team consolidates its second position in the Manufacturers’ standings.

The next round will be held on 6-8 June in Sardinia.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

Kris Meeke: “I was determined to get a good result at this Rally Argentina. I focussed on driving as precisely as possible so as to not take any risks. I used every second I had to make sure of getting across the finish line. It was difficult but this is a fantastic result. I would like to dedicate it to everyone in the team. They put a lot of faith in me, so I owed them one!”

Mads Østberg: “Yesterday, on the penultimate stage of the day, I got a bad kick back through the steering on my right hand. We tried to carry on today with the injury. I was having to drive with only my left hand and it was too dangerous and too painful. It wasn’t sensible to keep going. We talked it through with the team and we decided to stop after the first loop.”

Marek Nawarecki (Citroën Racing Deputy Team Principal): “It was an especially difficult rally. Kris had never raced in Argentina as part of the World Championship. He got to grips with the stages, confirmed his pace notes and found the right pace. Once he grabbed third spot, he managed his position remarkably well to finish on the podium. As regards Mads, initial tests suggest that the injury isn’t too serious. He will spend some time resting and recovering before preparing for Rally Italia Sardegna. Our aim is now for both crews achieve the same level of consistency in finishing among the leaders, starting at the next round.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED

SS11 – Giulio Cesare – Mina Clavero 1 (22.07km) – First on the road in very slippery conditions, Mikko Hirvonen set the fastest time of the day. Latvala extended his lead by 16 seconds at the front of the field. Through the thick fog, Kris Meeke held onto third overall whilst Mads Østberg managed the conditions despite suffering acute pain in his right hand.

SS12 – El Condor – Copina 1 (16.32km) – No change in the overall standings after the first run on El Condor. Mikko Hirvonen won the stage again, whilst Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg held position.

SS13 – Giulio Cesare – Mina Clavero 2 (22.07km) – Still running first on the road, Mikko Hirvonen claimed another stage win. Mads Østberg did not line up at the start, heading straight for the service park to get treatment on his injured right hand.

SS14 – Power Stage El Condor (16.32km) – With conditions still foggy, Sébastien Ogier collected the three bonus points awarded to the winner of the Power Stage, finishing ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, who wrapped up overall victory in the rally. Seventh on this final stage, Kris Meeke was able to celebrate his first WRC podium on gravel.

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