FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP (WRC 2015): WALES RALLY GB – CITROËN TOTAL ABU DHABI WORLD RALLY TEAM – KRIS MEEKE HOLDS SECOND IN WALES
WRC A FULL 2015
KRIS MEEKE HOLDS SECOND IN WALES.
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle ended day one of Wales Rally GB in second place as the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team look to secure the runner-up spot in the Manufacturers’ World Championship.
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson lie fourth overall tonight.
After a short night’s rest, the crews will tackle tomorrow’s long second leg, featuring nine stages.
WALES RALLY GB (12-15/11/2015) – DAY 1
13 November 2015
Although the rain was conspicuous by its absence during today’s opening leg of Wales Rally GB, the roads remained very slippery throughout the stages contested in the centre of the country, between Newtown and Aberyswyth.
Kris Meeke made a strong start to the day, grabbing second overall after SS2. And whilst Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville retired during the morning loop, Mads Østberg established himself in fourth place.
With no midday service, just the chance to fit new tyres, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg picked up where they left off in the afternoon. They consolidated their positions, with Kris Meeke grabbing a fine stage win on the 32.14 kilometre-long Hafren 2, avoiding the punctures that blighted some of their rivals.
With the first six stages completed, the Ulsterman is just thirteen seconds behind the leader Sébastien Ogier. Mads Østberg is fourth overall, around ten seconds behind Andreas Mikkelsen.
Weakened by a bout of flu and still learning about rallying at this level in the third DS 3 WRC competing at Wales Rally GB, Stéphane Lefebvre ended the leg in the top 10.
In the FIA Junior WRC, the Norwegian Ole Christian Veiby leads the category at the end of day one, trailed by British driver Chris Ingram and the Belgian William Wagner.
Day two of Wales Rally GB is due to get underway at the ungodly hour of 5am. SS7 (Gartheiniog) starts at 7.29am, just before sunrise. Seven stages will be held before the crews reach service. Two night stages are then scheduled, before the cars return to Deeside from 9.17pm.
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Our aim was to set a strong pace at the start to try and get ahead of our direct rivals in the championship, whilst not taking any risks. Our crews made a very good start to the race on what was a typically tough day at Wales Rally GB. Kris was fast, which augurs well for the rest of the rally, and Mads also showed good pace and consistency. We now have a small cushion heading into the next two days of the rally, but there is still a long way to go.”
Kris Meeke: “Our goal is to finish second in the manufacturers’ championship so we are in the perfect position for the rest of the event. We got off to a strong start because I had a very good feeling in the DS 3 WRC. When you feel confident in the car, it’s much easier to set good times, even when conditions are as tricky as those we had today.”
Mads Østberg: “We found the right rhythm on the very slippery roads. Fourth position overall is very much in line with our target of holding onto second place in the manufacturers’ championship. That’s our number one priority and we mustn’t lose sight of it. I’m pleased with our performances and I hope we can keep driving just as fast tomorrow.”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “I tried to improve as we completed more stages. During the second loop, we managed to reduce the gap to the stage-winning time to less than second per kilometre. Unfortunately, I span the car on the final stage and I ended the day with a hard point on the steering. Overall, though, the afternoon went very well. We have to keep up this pace.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Hafren 1 (32.14km) – Stage win for Sébastien Ogier, first on the road, ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg ended this opening stage in fifth place. Stéphane Lefebvre set the twelfth fastest time.
SS2 – Sweet Lamb 1 (3.33km) – On the shortest stage of the day, Jari-Matti Latvala went off the road. Sébastien Ogier collected a second stage win ahead of Kris Meeke, who moved into second overall. Mads Østberg was sixth fastest, moving up into fourth overall.
SS3 – Myherin 1 (30.23km) – Thierry Neuville and Kevin Abbring retired on the stage and Robert Kubica suffered a puncture. Sébastien Ogier made it a hat-trick of stage wins, finishing ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke. No change in the top four overall, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre scored moved into the top ten.
SS4 – Hafren 2 (32.14km) – After changing tyres in Newtown, the crews set off on their second runs on the same loop of stages. Kris Meeke was quickest on Hafren 2 to strengthen his hold on second place, ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg. Dani Sordo took advantage of a puncture for Elfyn Evans to grab fifth overall. Stéphane Lefebvre set the eighth fastest time.
SS5 – Sweet Lamb 2 (3.33km) – Sébastien Ogier topped the timesheets again, ahead of Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo. Mads Østberg finished in seventh place on this stage, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre was tenth.
SS6 – Myherin 2 (30.23km) – Sébastien Ogier ended the day with a fifth stage win to lead the rally ahead of Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg. A transmission problem resulted in Martin Prokop dropping out of the top 10. Stéphane Lefebvre missed the opportunity to move up the standings, however, after he span on the final test of the day.
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:16:03.5
2. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +13.5
3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +31.4
4. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (DS 3 WRC) +43.0
5. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:18.7
6. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:34.9
7. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:03.5
8. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:21.6
9. Lorenzo Bertelli / Lorenzo Granai (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:21.5
10. Stéphane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot (DS 3 WRC) +3:25.4
Sébastien Ogier, 5 – Kris Meeke, 1.
SS1 to SS6: Sébastien Ogier
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