Kris Meeke puts on a show!
"We were able to pick up experience today"
Overnight snowfall made for good conditions on day two of Rally Sweden, providing the Abu Dhabi Total WRT crews with an opportunity to showcase their skills. After rejoining this morning under Rally2 rules, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle were the quickest crew on the day’s combined stages. Craig Breen/Scott Martin continued to learn about the WRC as they held firm in eighth position, whilst Khalid Al Qassimi/Chris Patterson moved up four places in the overall standings.
Contested on roads around Hagfors, the second leg of Rally Sweden featured five stages that are very familiar to regulars at the event: Fredriksberg (SS10), two runs on Vargåsen (SS12/16), Rämmen (SS14) and the Karlstad super special stage (SS17). Thanks to the heavy overnight snowfall, drivers and spectators alike were able to enjoy considerably better conditions than they were expecting just a few days ago, when recce for this leg was largely held on gravel roads!
Back in action today, Kris Meeke wasted no time in getting his confidence back. After warming up on SS10 (Fredriksberg), he set the second fastest time on SS12, producing an impressive performance on Colin’s Crest with a massive 43-metre jump! The Northern Irishman went second fastest again on SS14, before having to contend with a loose right-rear tyre on the day’s final long stage.
After a highly consistent performance on day one, Craig Breen continued to learn about rallying at this level with a series of top-ten times. Despite having to cope with the rapid deterioration of his studded tyres throughout the afternoon, the Irishman nonetheless managed to stay within two seconds of the experienced Henning Solberg before the super special stage. The gap slipped to 3.6s after the day’s final test, since he was forced to put his spare wheel back on – which had lost its studs.
Khalid Al Qassimi could also take some positives from today’s second leg. Whilst making a number of corrections to his pace notes, the Abu Dhabi driver upped the pace as the day progressed. He ended up moving into the top 20 of the overall standings.
On Sunday, the third and final leg of Rally Sweden will feature just one stage. Held from 12.08pm onwards, Värmullsåsen (15.87km) will be contested as the Power Stage.
Craig Breen (#15): “It’s been another good day for us, with some interesting stage times and splits. The conditions were different to yesterday so we had to learn how to manage them. We made good progress. We noticed that we had a puncture just before the start of the super special stage. Our spare tyre was already very worn, so we lost a bit of time there. It doesn’t matter too much.”
Khalid Al-Qassimi (#14): “The most difficult thing today was finding traction when there was a thick layer of snow covering the line. I’m particularly pleased with my second run on Vargåsen. I had made some good corrections to the pace notes and I was able to push in the quick sections. We had a really good jump over Colin’s Crest, with a great landing. It was a good day!”
Kris Meeke (#7): “We were able to pick up experience today and we had a lot of fun in the car. It’s also pleasing to note that we were the fastest overall on today’s combined stages. We clearly had a good starting position, but Jari-Matti Latvala was just behind us in the running order, so he was a good benchmark. It makes our retirement yesterday all the more frustrating!”
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