Kris Meeke sticks to the plan
Wales Rally GB
Second overall this morning, Kris Meeke set off on roads that the heavy rain had left sodden. Although he began by cutting the gap to rally leader Sébastien Ogier, the Northern Irishman was above all focused on consolidating his position and keeping ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen. He ended today’s long second leg 24.7 seconds clear of the third-placed driver.
Mads Østberg picked up a puncture on SS8, dropping a place in the overall standings. He quickly regained fourth position from Dani Sordo, before then running into trouble on Dyfnant 1. After going off and becoming stuck in a ditch, the Nordic crew had to wait for spectators to come to their assistance before they could get away again. With almost two minutes lost, they finished the leg in eighth position.
Still weak after suffering flu symptoms yesterday, Stéphane Lefebvre upped his pace throughout the day. The reigning FIA Junior WRC champion even managed a sixth fastest time on Chirk Castle, ending Saturday’s leg in ninth position.
In the FIA Junior WRC, the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby held onto the lead, ahead of British driver Chris Ingram and the Frenchman Terry Folb.
The final leg of Wales Rally GB features four stages. After leaving the service park at 7am, the crews will tackle Brenig, Alwen and Great Orme before completing a second run on Brenig, the final test and also the Power Stage. The rally is scheduled to finish just before 2pm.
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Following a very emotional night for the entire team, our thoughts were obviously with the victims of the Paris attacks. Although it may seem somewhat incidental given the terrible circumstances, we still have to keep going after our target, which is to secure the runner-up spot for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team in the World Manufacturers’ Championship.”
Kris Meeke: “We had a strong day, despite the difficult conditions. We are focused on our goal of finishing second in the manufacturers’ championship, so I tried hard to consolidate my position without taking any risks. We know it’ll still be very hard tomorrow.”
Mads Østberg: “We had started at a good pace this morning, but after a puncture and minor off, we now have to look at the race from a different perspective. We really have to be careful now to make sure we bring home important points for second place in the manufacturers’ standings.”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “We improved a lot today, getting a bit closer to the times of the leaders. I learned a lot on the night stages and I really enjoyed myself in the DS 3 WRC. The atmosphere was amazing and I’m going to try and push tomorrow!”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS7 – Gartheiniog 1 (11.34km) – Having rejoined under Rally 2 rules and therefore first and second on the road, Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala set the top two times on the day’s opening stage, held at sunrise. Kris Meeke was fourth fastest to reduce the gap to overall leader Sébastien Ogier, whilst Mads Østberg consolidated his fourth position. Stéphane Lefebvre moved into ninth place.
SS8 – Dyfi 1 (25.86km) – Jari-Matti Latvala went off, bringing his day to a premature end. Thierry Neuville went fastest once again, ahead of Sébastien Ogier and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg picked up a puncture, allowing Dani Sordo to grab fourth position from him.
SS9 – Gartheiniog 2 (11.34km) – On the second pass, Andreas Mikkelsen went quickest, ahead of Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg was back on the pace, challenging Dani Sordo for fourth place.
SS10 – Dyfi 2 (25.86km) – Sébastien Ogier won the stage, ahead of Kris Meeke. The gap between the top two grew to 19.3 seconds, whilst Mikkelsen trailed the Ulsterman by around thirty seconds. Mads Østberg reclaimed fourth position from Dani Sordo, who lost two places after stalling on the stage.
SS11 – Dyfnant 1 (19.02km) – Thierry Neuville went off, holding up Sébastien Ogier as he tried to get past his car on the stage. Kris Meeke temporarily inherited the overall lead, before the Clerk of the Course awarded Ogier an adjusted time which handed the advantage back to the former leader. Mads Østberg went off, ending up a in a ditch. He lost almost two minutes and ended the day eighth overall. Stéphane Lefebvre recorded the eighth fastest time.
SS12 – Aberhirnant 1 (13.91km) – Another stage win for Sébastien Ogier, ahead of Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg. Stéphane Lefebvre finished seventh on this stage.
SS13 – Chirk Castle (2.06km) – On this short test organised as a prelude to the service break, Ott Tanak topped the timesheets. Stéphane Lefebvre was the highest-placed of the DS 3 WRC drivers in sixth, just ahead of Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg.
SS14 – Dyfnant 2 (19.02km) – After spending thirty minutes in Deeside for service, it was dark by the time the crews set off again. Andreas Mikkelsen won the stage, ahead of Sébastien Ogier and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg and Stéphane Lefebvre rounded off the top 10.
SS15 – Aberhirnant 2 (13.91km) – Sébastien Ogier won the final stage of the day. Kris Meeke was fourth fastest and Stéphane Lefebvre finished seventh. In the overall standings, Ogier leads Meeke and Mikkelsen, with Østberg eighth and Lefebvre ninth.
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