Kris Meeke

Kris on top in his WRC return

Friday, 20th May 2016 - by Site Admin
Kris on top in his WRC return

Kris has made a stunning return to the World Rally Championship by moving into the lead of the latest round, the Rally de Portugal, on his first full day of competitive action since February.

With testing for 2017 taking priority this year, Kris and co-driver Paul Nagle are tackling only a limited programme of rallies – and Portugal is their first outing since Rally Sweden. However, the DS 3 pairing were instantly back into the groove this morning, setting fastest times on the first two stages of the day and then getting to within 0.2sec of the scratch time on the third.

Taking full advantage of a relatively lowly position in the starting order, which gave them roads swept clear of the worst loose gravel, Kris and Paul ended the morning 11.5sec clear of reigning champion Sebastien Ogier, with few troubles beyond a brief moment of concern about a puncture in SS4.

The first stage after lunch had to be abandoned when a crashed car caused a fire, so Kris wasn’t able to set a competitive time. However, he reasserted his position with fastest times on the two remaining ‘normal’ tests of the day. Organisers then reviewed the data from the disrupted stage and awarded Kris a notional time that was based on his earlier pace and thus boosted his lead further.

Kris ceded a few seconds back to VW driver Ogier on the pair of short, spectator-friendly tests through the streets of Porto this evening – but he still brought the DS 3 back to the overnight halt with a lead of more than half a minute.

‘It’s been good,’ Kris said. ‘There’s a good atmosphere in the car and I’m enjoying it. We expected to lose a bit of time in the final two stages because we didn’t have soft tyres with us, but it was really just about a perfect day. There’s a long way to go yet but we’ll keep the same approach and see how that pans out.’

Tomorrow’s second full leg contains plenty of scope for further drama, with 100 stage miles in a trio of tests run in the morning and then repeated in late afternoon. Sunday comprises just two stages, each run twice, and includes the Power Stage at the famous Fafe jump.

Rally de Portugal: leading positions after SS9
1 Kris Meeke (DS 3 WRC) 1h28m53.3s
2 Sebastien Ogier (VW Polo WRC) +31.9s
3 Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20 WRC) +37.3s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen (VW Polo WRC) +52.3s
5 Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1m12.2s
6 Stephane Lefebvre (DS 3 WRC) +1m33.5s