Britain's Kris Meeke has retired from Rally de Portugal after he was unable to re-start this morning in his Citroen DS3 WRC car.
Meeke crashed out in the final stage on Friday, the repeat-run through the tricky Almodovar test, which had earlier claimed M-Sport pair Elfyn Evans and Robert Kubica. The Citroen man went off and rolled his DS3 WRC at the same spot as fellow countryman, Evans. The incident damaged the roll cage and meant Rally 2 was not possible.
Meeke has been running ninth after SS6, 9.5 seconds off Volkswagen Motorsport II pilot, Andreas Mikkelsen.
He said his pace-notes were the problem, something a lot of the drivers have been struggling with, especially the less experienced WRC men, as with the recce disrupted by heavy rain and flash flooding they weren't able to do them as well as normal.
“We braked a bit late into a right-hand corner. It was a spot where there wasn't much grip and where Elfyn Evans went off this morning,” Meeke recounted. “The notes just weren't accurate enough.”
Citroen team boss, Yves Matton added: “Recce suggested that the rally was going to be particularly difficult. And the first leg proved to be just that, with several WRC crews going off today.
“Kris had more trouble. He had to learn about the stages as he went and had been cautious through the day but then got caught out on the last stage. We hope he'll be able to rejoin on Saturday under Rally 2 rules.”
“[Team-mate] Mads [Ostberg meanwhile] managed to be consistent whilst setting times close to those of the leaders. He is well placed [in fourth post-SS7] for the rest of the rally,” Matton continued.
“He must be cautious though to ensure he makes it to the end, but we're convinced he has what it takes to finish on the podium.”
Ostberg said he was happy with his day and to finish it around 20 seconds off Sebastien Ogier in third: “It was a good day [for me],” stated the former Crash.net
columnist. “We managed to stay with the leaders. We lost a bit of time on the first stage of the second loop. I don't think we made the right tyre choice. We went for hard tyres but the roads were still pretty damp. But it wasn't an easy call to make. [Overall] I'm pleased with how the day went and it looks good for Saturday.”