KRIS MEEKE WINS AGAIN IN THE CITROËN C3 WRC AT RALLY DE ESPAÑA
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle swept to five stage wins out of six as they dominated the final leg of Rally de España. They therefore completed their second win in the Citroën C3 WRC this season. Thanks to the sixth position secured by Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT ended up with the best Manufacturers' result at this round.
- The final leg of Rally de España featured six stages. As the two runs on L’Albiol, Riudecanyes and Santa Marina were contested without a service period, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT drivers opted to take five hard compound Michelin Pilot Sport tyres.
- The day's opening stage, held whilst it was still dark, went very well for Kris Meeke. The Northern Irishman's enjoyment of these conditions showed as he picked up another stage win.
- Kris then added further wins on the next two stages to extend his advantage over Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak: at the end of the first loop, he had moved 23.9s clear of the Frenchman.
- Building on the experience acquired on yesterday's tarmac stages, Stéphane Lefebvre began the day by upping his pace and putting pressure on Mads Østberg. The two rivals set the same time on SS14, then Stéphane went quicker on the next two stages. Meanwhile, the retirements of Lappi and Neuville, caught out by the difficulties of the Catalan roads, meant the talented young Frenchman moved up to sixth place, 16s behind Østberg!
- Unfortunately, Stéphane wasn't able to give his all right to the very end. On SS17, he had a hydraulics problem, and then lost the intercom on the next stage. From that point onwards, he focussed on making sure of finishing in sixth place.
- Meanwhile, Kris Meeke continued to put on a sparkling performance, collecting another two stage wins (SS17/SS18). On the Power Stage, he eased off quite a bit and took no risks at all. He nonetheless set the second fastest time to seal the overall win, finishing 28s ahead of Sébastien Ogier and 33s clear of Ott Tänak.
- Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle therefore claimed a second win for the C3 WRC (after Rally Mexico), the fifth of their WRC career (to go with wins in Argentina in 2015, Portugal and Finland in 2016 and Mexico in 2017) and the… 98th win for Citroën in the WRC!
- Khalid Al Qassimi enjoyed a consistent race, ensuring the third Citroën C3 WRC made it to the finish of this year's Rally de España. Increasingly comfortable on tarmac, the Abu Dhabi driver finished in 17th place overall.
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: "Obviously, everyone at Citroën Racing is absolutely delighted with this result, whether they are part of the operations team here in Spain or work out of the spotlight back at the factory in Versailles. In the last few months, we have put in a lot of hard work to improve the potential of the Citroën C3 WRC and give our crews the best possible platform to succeed. This weekend, Kris and Paul were fast on gravel, before taking control of the rally and dominating on tarmac. This win is a particularly accomplished team result and one that means we have already met some of the targets we had set ourselves for the final part of the season. Our congratulations also go to Stéphane and Gabin, who have made it a strong overall result for us and helped Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT to score more points than the other teams this weekend."
Kris Meeke: "This completes an exceptional weekend for me. Since our win at Rally Mexico, we've had some tough moments, but we've picked ourselves up each time by working hard. We always knew this car was terrific on asphalt and I think that we have demonstrated that since yesterday! This wins shows the quality of the work done by the entire team and it gives us all a huge confidence boost for the rest of the season."
Stéphane Lefebvre: "We tried to push and managed to claw back some time on Mads Østberg in the first loop. After that, it became more difficult with some hydraulics problems and then we lost the intercom. From that point onwards, I was just making sure I held position. Sixth place is pretty good, considering my limited knowledge of this event. I would say this result was more or less comparable with my top-five finish in Poland. Little by little, as I gain more experience, I'm improving and I hope to be able to confirm my progress in the future. Congratulations to Kris and Paul on winning again – it's a morale-boosting result for everyone in the team!"
Khalid Al Qassimi: “It was a very good day. As the day wore on, I enjoyed driving the car more and more and I'm very pleased with the progress made by the Citroën C3 WRC. But I'm most pleased of all about Kris Meeke winning the rally. He had a fantastic race this weekend, it's a great moment for us all and I'm very proud to see Abu Dhabi promoted by these performances."
1. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:01:21.1
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +28.0
3. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +33.0
4. Hänninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +54.1
5. Østberg / Eriksen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:26.2
6. Lefebvre / Moreau (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:43.0
7. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:37.4
8. Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) +8:22.7
9. Kopecky / Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) +8:54.5
10. Veiby / Skjaermoen (Skoda Fabia R5) +9:04.8
… 17. Al Qassimi / Patterson (Citroën C3 WRC) +15:14.8
DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Sébastien Ogier - 198 points
2. Thierry Neuville - 162 points
3. Ott Tänak - 159 points
4. Jari-Matti Latvala - 123 points
5. Dani Sordo - 94 points
6. Elfyn Evans - 93 points
7. Juho Hänninen - 71 points
8. CRAIG BREEN - 64 points
9. KRIS MEEKE - 60 points
10. Hayden Paddon - 55 points
11. Esapekka Lappi - 49 points
12. Andreas Mikkelsen - 39 points
13. STEPHANE LEFEBVRE - 30 points
14. Teemu Suninen - 29 points
15. Mads Østberg - 29 points
MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
1. M-Sport WRT - 358 points
2. Hyundai Motorsport - 275 points
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT - 228 points
4. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT - 202 points