…As Hyundai i20 Places Second Due to Stability Issues
…Ford Fiesta RS Suffers broken handbrake, Places Fifth
[dropcap]C[/dropcap]itroen DS 3, driven by thirty-six-year-old, Kris Meeke from Northern, led in this year’s ongoing World Rally Championship’s four-day rough road event by 29.7seconds.
Returning to the championship after missing the previous two rallies in the Americas, Meeke’s, on Sunday, claimed a second success, after victory in Argentina last year.
The Citroen driver followed Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Hayden Paddon onto the top step of the WRC podium this year after building a lead of almost a minute during the first part of the rally and measuring his pace through the final day-and-a-half.
Citroen DS took the lead in the second stage on Friday morning and remained trouble-free on the rocky mountain roads in the north of the country, making the most of clean, grippy conditions courtesy of a low start position.
Meeke, who is driving a part-programme as Citroën develops a new car for 2017 reacted to his performance thus: “It was nearly a perfect weekend, a text book performance. It’s another step for me as a driver. This year is all about gathering experience and I couldn’t have done any more. We’ll use these rallies this year for our benefit and try to mount a title challenge next year.”
After an overly-cautious opening day, a rejuvenated Andreas Mikkelsen upped his pace to grab second from team-mate and championship leader Sébastien Ogier. Set-up changes to his Volkswagen Polo R inspired the Norwegian who won today’s opening two stages and finished 4.8sec ahead.
Whereas Volkswagen Polo driven by Ogier suffered two punctures on Sunday. With just one spare wheel, Polo R’s driver compromised his pace to ensure he completed the final Power Stage and reach the Matosinhos finish after topping up one of the flat tyres with air.
Hyundai i20 driven by Dani Sordo finished fourth after all hopes of a podium ended on Saturday due to stability issues with the rear of the car.
After suffering a broken handbrake, Ford Fiesta RS, driven by Eric Camilli, only managed to claim fifth in the driver’s only fifth start in a World Rally Car.
Polo R driver, Latvala completed the rally with blistered and bandaged hands after wrestling the car through the twisty mountains on Friday with broken power steering.
Mads Østberg was almost three minutes behind in seventh in another Fiesta RS after downshifting problems and a broken driveshaft cost several minutes.
Martin Prokop, WRC 2 winner Pontus Tidemand and Nicolas Fuchs completed the leaderboard.