AN ENLIGHTENING SHAKEDOWN FOR CITROËN TOTAL ABU DHABI WRT
Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle, Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen and Craig Breen – Scott Martin finished fourth, eleventh and thirteenth respectively at today's shakedown, using the final practice session to tun through various set-up options on their C3 WRCs.
The WRC is an incredibly closely-contested championship these days, with the teams using every kilometre driven to optimise their cars and the shakedown is no exception to this rule. Today's 4.6km stage provided Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT with the opportunity to confirm the new set-up ideas that had been explored during the final leg of Rally Argentina, before opting for a more "second run" type set-up once the ruts began to form.
Kris Meeke was very quickly into his stride, regaining the same good feeling in the car he had in Argentina. He was immediately among the leaders before ending the session with the fourth fastest time, just seven hundredths off the pace. Still getting used to the C3 WRC on gravel, Mads Østberg took a few runs before getting his bearings. Inevitably, the road surface broke up as the session went on, preventing him from improving on eleventh place (+2.9s). Having decided that the shakedown wasn't sufficiently representative of the weekend's stages,Craig Breen focused on set-up work and settled for the thirteenth fastest time (+3.9s).
Often referred to as the "birthplace of the Portuguese nationality" and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guimarães – located to the north of Porto – will host this evening's ceremonial start, before the rally gets underway with a super special stage held on the Lousada rallycross circuit. The first proper leg is scheduled to start tomorrow, with Kris Meeke, Craig Breen and Mads Østberg due to run in sixth, tenth and twelfth positions on the road respectively.
WHAT THEY SAID
"Today's shakedown allowed us to confirm some of the set-up ideas that we had in mind and so from that point of view, it was quite informative. Although it doesn't give us an entirely accurate picture of what to expect this weekend, I'm pleased with my pace and I'm really looking forward to getting started. "
"To be honest, over the years, I've never really liked the shakedown here; it doesn't seem natural to me and it's not really representative of the stages. But I feel confident about this weekend because we focused fully on preparing well for the race. "
"It was good for me to do five runs this morning. We gradually changed the set-up during the session and I now have a clearer idea of what I need. This second rally with the C3 WRC is my first on gravel, so I'm undoubtedly going to be learning with every kilometre covered. "
- Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:03.5
- Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:03.8
- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:03.8
- Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:04.2
- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:04.2
- Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:04.3
- Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:04.5
- Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:04.5
- Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:04.9
- Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:05.4
- Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:06.4
- Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 3:07.1
- Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:07.2