Citroen's Kris Meeke is feeling confident ahead of Rallye de France and has said he “knows” he can finish on the podium.
Meeke has stepped it up in the second half of the season and described his performance in Australia earlier this month as “strongest so far”
. He will now be after his fourth rostrum of the year in Alsace as the WRC switches back to asphalt.
“We have managed to be among the frontrunners in the last three or four rallies. We have to keep it going now and try and mix it more and more with the battle for the lead. I know we can finish on the podium. It is down to us to perform right to the finish,” he said.
Despite that, though, he added he will be doing his “own rally”: “The trend is positive,” he continued, “and I feel stronger and stronger in the DS3 WRC. I always try to do my very best. Obviously, I compare my times with those of the other drivers. But above all, I'm looking to do my own rally. I'm making progress at my own speed, keeping focussed on the objectives that we set with the team.”
Meeke has also only done the event in Alsace once before, back in 2011 with the MINI John Cooper Works WRC car, when he crashed out while running in fifth. He is not, however, dwelling on that.
“I like the kind of roads you get here. I have acquired most of my experience during the many test sessions we have organised in the region. For the 2014 stages, we're going to have to take new pace notes. But with Paul [Nagle – my co-driver], we're beginning to get used to doing just that!” he noted.
Team-mate Mads Ostberg meanwhile wants to get “big points” in France and build on his sixth place finish in Germany, the last WRC event on the black stuff.
“I have competed in all four years of the Rallye de France since it moved to Alsace. The stages are flowing and very fast. It's my favourite event on this surface,” stated the Norwegian, who has been somewhat overshadowed in the second half of the season by Meeke.
“We have driven in dry and wet conditions [in Alsace]. I must admit I really liked it when it was very slippery, in the rain. It's interesting to try and find some grip when the roads become muddy.
“I have also had the chance to try out the new [Michelin] tyres in testing. The development work has paid off; the tyres offer greater performance on wet and muddy roads while in dry conditions, there isn't much difference. Our aim is to improve on the rhythm we had in Germany, to score big points.”
Racing director Yves Matton is keen to see them deliver at Citroen's home event, one that has been good to the team in the past.
“It an especially important point of the season for the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, which goes beyond the purely sporting side of things,” he stated. “Citroen is a partner for the entire event. The huge crowds and enthusiasm for the rally makes it one of the real highlights of our season, like Monte Carlo or Finland.”
“It's also potentially one of the strongest rallies for our team,” he continued. “Citroen's experience here, with three consecutive wins [in 2010, 2011 and 2012], and the competitiveness of our DS3 WRCs provide us with the means of going after good results.”