Kris Meeke

Kris wins Rally de Portugal

Sunday, 22nd May 2016 - by Site Admin
Kris wins Rally de Portugal

Kris has scored his second World Rally Championship event win by taking a comfortable victory on the Rally de Portugal, the fifth round of the 2016 series.

The Northern Irishman and his co-driver Paul Nagle put in a dominant, assured performance over three days of action near Porto. Their relatively lowly starting position meant that they were able to drive on roads swept clean of the worst gravel by the leading crews, and they took full advantage where possible. Indeed, at one point their lead stood at more than a minute – a huge margin in a sport where rallies are often decided by tenths of seconds.

Kris started today’s four stages with a lead of more than 45 seconds over the VW Polo of reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier. However, the Frenchman was embroiled in a battle with his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, and the VW pair were set to push hard over the final tests – so Kris had to manage his pace to not take risks but still end up at the finish at the top of the overall timesheets. The fact that he is not contesting the full WRC meant that he wouldn’t necessarily be fighting for points at the event-closing Power Stage, either.

In the the first stage of the day, Mikkelsen charged hard and into second place as Ogier suffered a slow puncture – and the Norwegian also took 9.9 seconds out of Kris. The times were closer in the second stage, Fafe, where Kris only ceded three seconds to his new closest rival as he ended the first loop with a lead of more than 35 seconds.

‘On the first couple of stages this morning, we had varying conditions,’ said Kris. ‘The opening stage of the day was a bit mixed, with some muddy patches that were there to catch you out, so I took a very cautious approach in there. Fafe, on the other hand, was great to drive, with pretty consistent levels of grip that just made it a more straightforward stage.’

The two tests were repeated in the afternoon, and while Mikkelsen and Ogier resumed their battle, Kris continued to consolidate his lead, allowing the Polos to steal a few seconds as he brought the DS 3 home safely and without drama. In the end, he backed up his Rally Argentina victory of last year by winning by almost half a minute.

‘It’s been a near-perfect event – textbook, really,’ said Kris. ‘I have to say a huge thank-you to my team – especially my engineer, who I know put in a tremendous amount of work for this event. The road position was advantageous, for sure, but you can only drive the roads that are in front of you and I know I couldn’t have done any more. This win shows the DS 3 WRC is still a quick car, and as for me, it’s another step in my development. I really can’t wait for 2017.’

The WRC now moves on to the island of Sardinia for the Rally Italia Sardegna on 9-12 June. Kris will not be tackling this event, though, and he is also scheduled to miss the following round in Poland as he resumes his focus on developing Citroen Racing’s 2017 World Rally Car.

Rally de Portugal – leading finishers
1 Kris Meeke (DS 3 WRC) 1h28m53.3s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen (VW Polo WRC) +29.7s
3 Sebastien Ogier (VW Polo WRC) +34.5s
4 Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1m37.1s
5 Eric Camilli (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4m01.6s
6 Jari-Matti Latvala (VW Polo WRC) +4m06.9s