Kris Meeke second in Germany
Østberg and Andersson hold eighth position
Kris Meeke – alongside co-driver Paul Nagle – made a superb return to tarmac, as he ended day one of Rally Deutschland in second place. Meanwhile, in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s other DS3 WRC, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson held eighth position, less than twenty seconds adrift of third place.
Mads Østberg hadn’t competed in a tarmac rally for almost a year. And aside from Monte-Carlo, which is always something of a one-off event, Kris Meeke had to go back three years for his last appearance on this surface…
Unsurprisingly, both Citroën Total World Rally Team crews were therefore rather cautious as they set out to tackle the roads in the Mosel valley. Mads Østberg and then Kris Meeke nonetheless showed they were capable of finishing in the 3 on each stage.
The British driver quickly made up for the minor mistake he committed on SS1 to grab third place overall after the morning loop. Improving his pace throughout the day, he went on to finish the leg in second position, after the leader went off. Meanwhile, Mads, third at the start of the race, became embroiled in a fight with five other drivers for the final podium place.
In WRC2, Sébastien Chardonnet and Thibault De la Haye made a great start to their rally with a stage win on SS1. They lost ground at the end of the morning when their power steering failed, however, and ended the first leg in eighth place in the category in their Citroën DS3 R5.
Christian Riedemann led the Junior WRC standings at his home rally throughout the morning. However, he collected a twenty-second penalty as he left the midday service. This allowed the Frenchmen Eric Camilli, on his WRC debut, and Stéphane Lefebvre, the championship leader, to take the top two positions this evening.
Tomorrow’s leg features eight stages and five hundred kilometres of timed sections. An early start awaits the crews. Cars are due to leave parc ferme at 6.30am, returning to the service park at 1.18pm and concluding the leg at 8.24pm.
Kris Meeke: “I’m pretty happy with today’s leg on my first rally back on tarmac. I lost around ten seconds when I spun on the opening stage. After that, the rhythm was good. It’s promising to be in second position this evening. But we know that anything can still happen in the rest of the rally. We’ll be taking a good look at the weather forecast, because we’ll need to make the right tyre choice. There’s still a long way to go in this Rally Germany!”
Mads Østberg: “We did ok on the first runs. I was fairly happy after the first three stages. In the afternoon, I couldn‘t find the right feeling in the car. The conditions were pretty difficult, and I just couldn’t get the pace right. Although we are down in eighth position, we are still very close to the top 5. We’ll have to try and fight back up the field tomorrow.”
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Kris Meeke was very solid and showed that he was capable of fighting with the leaders. Being second is really promising for him, but the gaps are so narrow that he’s going to need to keep pushing tomorrow. Mads had more difficulties as the roads became increasingly dirty after the other drivers went through the stages. He will have to adapt his driving style to these conditions. If he can do that, he’ll move back up the standings quickly.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Sauertal 1 (14.14km) – First on the road, Sébastien Ogier took advantage of the dry roads to win the opening stage. He finished ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke. Sébastien Chardonnet grabbed the early lead in the WRC2 category.
SS2 – Waxweiler 1 (16.40km) – Sébastien Ogier picked up where he left off on the second stage. Despite the mud dirtying the line as more drivers completed the stage, Kris Meeke went third fastest. Mads Østberg finished seventh.
SS3 – Moselland 1 (21.02km) – Jari-Matti Latvala managed to cut Sébastien Ogier’s lead on this stage, littered with hairpins. Kris Meeke grabbed the third fastest time, whilst Mads Østberg was seventh. Sébastien Chardonnet lost just over two minutes in WRC2 after his power steering failed.
SS4 – Sauertal 2 (14.14km) – On the second pass, Ogier once again set the fastest time. Kris Meeke consolidated his third position, whilst Mads Østberg completed the top 10.
SS5 – Waxweiler 2 (16.40km) – The duel between Latvala and Ogier continued with a stage win for the Finn. Behind the leading pair, Kris Meeke added another third fastest time to his collection. Mads Østberg had to be content with ninth place.
SS6 – Moselland 2 (21.02km) – Rally leader Sébastien Ogier went off the road. Jari-Matti Latvala inherited first position, ahead of Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo. Eighth-placed Mads Østberg ended the day just 19.3 seconds adrift of third place.
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