16 August 2014
WRC Rallye Deutschland: Tarmac return to be ‘like riding a bike’ - Meeke
Citroen's Kris Meeke may be contesting his first all-tarmac event for three years, but does not expect to be at a disadvantage on Rallye Deutschland.
Kris Meeke does not believe he will be at a disadvantage as he tackles his first all-tarmac rally for three years in Germany next weekend.
The Briton's sporadic World Rally Championship involvement means that he returns to the Trier-based Rallye Deutschland for the first time since his JWRC days, and has yet to race the Citroen DS3 WRC on a full sealed-surface event. Despite that, he is confident that he will be competitive from the opening stage on 21 August, having collected a podium and a win when the JWRC visited Germany almost ten years ago:
“I haven't competed in an all-tarmac rally for three years,” the Northern Irishman confirmed, “but it all comes back to you quickly - it's like riding a bike!”
Rallye Deutschland provides a unique challenge to the WRC runners, taking them from the vineyards of Trier to the infamous Baumholder military base, where they will tackle two stages - Arena Panzerplatte and the 42.5km Panzerplatte Lang – complete with the car-crunching Hinkelsteins and the famous Gina's jump.
“I know that the DS3 WRC is competitive and that team knows the rally perfectly. I have everything I need to do well, and have some very fond memories of competing there in the C2 Super 1600 and of my experience in the WRC in 2011,” Meeke continued, “There are three very different types of road, and the pace is constantly changing. I'll have to get to grips with some things in the DS3 WRC, but I hope I can pick up where I left off in Finland.”
With three of the four rallies coming up in the next two months being held on tarmac, Citroen will fall back on the specific parts and set-up that have consistently given the Versailles-based marque an advantage in Germany.
“For everyone – the technicians, the engineers and the crews – it's an important point of the season,” emphasised team principal Yves Matton, “We need to get to grips with conditions that we haven't experienced since the Rallye de France in October 2013, and testing will be just as important for the drivers as the rest of the team.
“You need to re-hone some of your reflexes again to prepare for this first round of the season on tarmac, and Rallye Deutschland is especially important for Citroën in that we are on a run of eleven consecutive wins.”
The DS3 WRCs are not very different to those driven recently in Sardinia, Poland and Finland.
“They are the same cars,” chief operations engineer Didier Clément confirmed, “Given that we are limited to six chassis per season for both crews, there is no specific body shell for the tarmac rounds. The only differences concern the level of the struts, the shock absorbers, the brakes, the wishbones and the tie-rods. The car has to be easy to drive so the drivers feel confident to push on the quick stages through the vineyards.”
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