WRC A FULL 2016
That’s a wrap for Abu Dhabi Total WRT!.
With three of its cars making it to the end of Rally GB, the season drew to a close in Wales for the Abu Dhabi Total WRT. Fifth overall, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle secured the team’s best result this weekend, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre and Gilles de Turckheim finished in the points in ninth place. Last but not least, Quentin Gilbert and Renaud Jamoul completed their first rally in a WRC in seventeenth position. With two wins, collected in Portugal and Finland, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT’s 2016 programme has helped prepare for the return of Citroën Racing as a works team in 2017.
After two long days, the third and final leg of Wales Rally GB may have seemed a somewhat easier challenge. The crews nonetheless had to complete six short stages: Clocaenog, Brenig and Alwen, each run twice during the morning.
As the gaps in the overall standings were fairly significant, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT crews all had the same goals, i.e. gather experience, enjoy it and make it to the finish!
With the roads just as slippery as they were on the first two days, despite the lack of rain, the drivers still needed their wits about them. With more favourable positions in the running order than on the opening two legs, Kris Meeke, Stéphane Lefebvre and Quentin Gilbert set times very close to those of the frontrunners. For example, Kris set the second fastest time on Clocaenog 2.
Following the Brenig Power Stage, the crews headed for the historic seaside resort of Llandudno for the final podium. It was a special moment for the team, marking both the end of their 2016 season and the start of the countdown to the 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Next year, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle, Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau and Craig Breen/Scott Martin will spearhead the challenge of the Citroën Racing team, as the Brand returns as a works team at the top level of world rallying!
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: “I would like to thank our partners Abu Dhabi and Total for having made this transitional programme possible at eight European rounds of the WRC. Well done also to everyone at the PH Sport team, who have run the cars with an excellent level of quality. This season has seen Kris Meeke, Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre add to their experience and maintain their competitive edge, during a phase in which we are developing the new Citroën C3 WRC. Kris’ two victories have extended Citroën’s incredible record in the WRC to 96 wins. This programme also helped us to enhance our technical database. All the positive and negative experiences will help us to prepare more effectively for Citroën’s return in 2017.”
Kris Meeke: “We’ve had a fantastic season. It was very important pour me to keep competing in rallies, looking ahead to 2017. Yes, we won two rallies in Portugal and in Finland, but we also had a very high level of performance in Monte-Carlo, Sweden and Corsica. I did my best here in Wales and I’m pleased with my performance, given the conditions. It’s the end of a very special period for me, as the last three seasons have enabled me to secure my place at the highest level. But above all, I can’t wait to get started next season!”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “I’m pleased to have made it to the end without making any mistakes. I managed to find a good rhythm on this third leg. We changed the set-up again and that made a difference. With more traction, I immediately felt more confident behind the wheel. With a more favourable starting position, I set some good times and got a bit closer to Kris. I’m relieved because I was surprised to be so far off the pace of the leading guys yesterday. It’s obviously very important for the future and I am now really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Citroën C3 WRC.”
Quentin Gilbert: “My main aim was to make it to the finish. Apart from that, I wanted to improve consistently throughout the event. Some stages were better than others and I would have liked to have set some better times but overall, I feel that I did a good job for my first rally in a WRC. I think today was probably my best day of the rally. And yet the conditions were once again very difficult. I would like to thank everyone at Abu Dhabi Total WRT, who have done everything tehy could to get us in the best possible shape this weekend.”
UNOFFICIAL FINAL STANDINGS
1. Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo R WRC) 3:14:30.2
2. Tänak / Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +10.2
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:35.4
4. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:54.9
5. Meeke / Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +2:35.2
6. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:02.6
7. Latvala / Anttila (VW Polo R WRC) +4:28.3
8. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:38.3
9. Lefebvre / de Turckheim (DS 3 WRC) +7:12.2
10. Camilli / Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:19.3
… 17. Gilbert / Jamoul (DS 3 WRC) +11:56.5
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