Citroen's Kris Meeke thinks he put in his "strongest performance of the season so far" on Rally Australia.

Meeke led for most of Friday, before slipping back to fourth in the short Hyundai super special stages. He then had a good scrap for the final podium place with Andreas Mikkelsen on day two and initially finished the leg just 1.5 seconds back, until he was handed a 61 second penalty for excessively cutting a corner in SS10. That dropped him to fifth, 0.6 second behind Mikko Hirvonen.

However, on the final day, Meeke re-took fourth in the opening stage of the day and eventually finished comfortably ahead, winning his third stage of the event in SS17, when he was 1.2 seconds up on Jari-Matti Latvala. In total the Ulsterman managed 17 top-five times from a possible 20.

Related Articles

"To be honest, I think this is my strongest performance so far this season, even though we have finished fourth with the penalty. It is a strange feeling," Meeke reflected.

"I feel I am really getting closer to the other guys. Okay, Seb [Ogier] and Jari are still out of reach for the moment and I still have work to do to catch them but I'm enjoying myself," he added.

"In Finland, in Germany and this week in Australia, we have been fighting at the front. This is my first full season in WRC, but I feel I'm getting stronger and stronger. We will have to keep it up at the Rallye de France."

Citroen team principal Yves Matton commented: "Kris is continuing to do everything we have asked of him. He's proving that he is one of the fastest drivers in this second half of the season by fighting at the front."

"We [also] saw today that Kris was capable of setting some very good times without really pushing [too]. He had the potential to end the rally within thirty seconds of the winner," Matton added.

Meanwhile, Mads Ostberg had a tougher event in the sister DS3 WRC car, eventually finishing down in 16th after he had to stop to repair a broken suspension arm in the penultimate stage. He had been running sixth, 4.6 seconds up on Hayden Paddon in P7 and around a minute off Meeke in P4.

"It was a tough weekend for us," Ostberg noted, "although we did improve the more stages we completed. We were able to show our speed and managed to defend our position against Hayden Paddon.

"Unfortunately, we had a damaged rear suspension arm on the penultimate stage. We were able to repair it in order to finish the race, but we were really unlucky. We will have to switch our focus now to the Rallye de France-Alsace, Citroen's home event."