25 May 2015
Rally de Portugal: Broken anti-roll bar costs Meeke possible third
Rally Argentina winner Kris Meeke slips to fourth on the final day of Rally de Portugal, but still pleased with his weekend
Britain's Kris Meeke missed out on a possible podium finish on Rally de Portugal last weekend, with a broken anti-roll bar in the penultimate test leaving him unable to fight with Volkswagen's Andreas Mikkelsen.
Meeke had been well on course for a top-three in his Citroen DS 3 WRC, even closing to within 6.1s of eventual winner, Jari-Matti Latvala on Saturday morning, after setting the pace in SS9 and SS10. However, in the afternoon he was overhauled by Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier, while Mikkelsen closed to within 1.1s.
On Sunday, it remained closed, with Mikkelsen just inching ahead by 0.4s after Fafe 1, until the failure in SS15.
“You can't win every weekend,” said Meeke, who took his maiden WRC victory on Rally Argentina last time out. “We tried this weekend, the confidence was good and the car has been incredible. We got close yesterday and we were within 6 seconds [of the lead].
“We need to learn more about tyre management. It is a shame about that breakage this morning because that took us out of the challenge for a podium.
“Overall though, a really positive weekend.”
Speaking back in service, the Ulsterman reiterated he still happy, despite the problems so close to the end.
“We were competitive throughout the weekend. Usually, this kind of performance would lead to place on the podium. We were fighting at the front right from the word go and although the result wasn't quite what we had hoped for, it was a very positive weekend and we're now fourth in the championship. So I'm very happy about that.”
Meanwhile, team-mate Mads Ostberg finished seventh in the sister DS 3 WRC, recovering one position after losing time on Saturday with rear diff issues in the morning and then turbo issues in the afternoon. In the end he finished just 4.3s shy of Dani Sordo in P6.
“We showed very strong pace at the end of the rally. We had to push hard to make up the time we had lost to Hayden Paddon and Dani,” Ostberg remarked. “I think we performed very well. The aim was to make up nine seconds on the final day and we did more than that. It is encouraging before we tackle Rally Italia Sardegna, which is one of my favourite events.”
Citroen boss Yves Matton summarised: “We can be pleased with the result at the end of this year's Rally de Portugal. With both our cars finishing in good positions, we have met the targets we set ourselves before the start. There are a number of reasons to be satisfied: the DS 3 WRCs were competitive and we were fighting at the front for more than two days. We have also taken points off our rivals in the Manufacturers' standings and strengthened our hold on second position. All of which is very encouraging for the rest of the season.”
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