KRIS MEEKE FINISHES JUST SHY OF PODIUM
Today's fourth and final leg enabled the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews to showcase their skills. Whilst Craig Breen and Scott Martin set a third fastest time, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle snatched fourth place as they took maximum points on the Power Stage, claiming the C3 WRC's very first such win of its career. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT leaves the Principality in third position in the manufacturers' championship whilst and Kris Meeke lies fourth in the drivers' standings.
Peaking at just over 1,600 metres above sea level, the Col de Turini is one of the highlights of the event. The excitement surrounding this stage owes much to the atmosphere created by the large numbers of fans that line the roads and the invariably unpredictable weather. This year's running of the iconic Monte stage proved to be no exception, with twenty percent of the roads on the first loop covered in frost, mainly found on the Col de Turini's ultra-fast downhill section leading to Peira Cava.
An ability to read the level of grip accurately was necessary to keep out of trouble. Of the two Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews, Kris Meeke managed negotiate the loop best, with two studded Michelin tyres and two super softs, whilst Craig Breen opted for a mix of soft-compound tyres (4) and super softs (2). Both drivers then produced strong performances on the stage contested between La Cabanette and the Col de Braus, grouped together in third and fourth places.
Craig Breen confirmed his good form with a third fastest time on the second run over the legendary Col de Turini. Meanwhile, Kris Meeke showed strength and consistency to hold off some of his determined rivals, whilst helping himself to fourth place after claiming an encouraging win on the Power Stage. A positive end to the rally that meant he put seventeen points on the board in the drivers' standings and therefore made a good start to the season, whilst Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT scored eighteen points to end this opening round in third place in the manufacturers' championship.
WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"We had two different targets for Kris and Craig today: for Kris, the idea was to hold onto his position, whilst Craig was hoping to do well on the Power Stage, which is why they opted for differing tyre strategies. I'm pleased that Kris did what we asked of him – and more – in securing maximum points on the Power Stage. Craig was also on course for a good result in the Power Stage, but he lost a few seconds when he stalled on a hairpin. If it hadn't been for that, he would also have set a very good time."
"It was the hardest Monte-Carlo that I have ever experienced. We had everything: sheer ice on slick tyres on Thursday evening, rain on Friday, snow on Saturday and frost on the Col de Turini today. I'm surprised to finish the rally with seventeen points, but I'll certainly take them! We now have to stay humble and keep working hard to try and improve."
"The weekend got off to a difficult start, with our mistake on Thursday evening. And then things went from bad to worse with the brake problems on Friday, which left us opening the road as something of a snow plough on Saturday. But we produced some good performances on a good few occasions, and did so again today on the dry tarmac. We now need to keep working in more changeable conditions, like those you typically get in Monte-Carlo."
FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
- Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:18:55.5
- Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 58.3
- Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:52.0
- Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) + 4:43.1
- Neuville/Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 4:53.8
- Evans/Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 4:54.8
- Lappi/Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 4:57.5
- Bouffier/Panseri (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 7:39.5
- Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 9:06.7
- Kopecky/Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) + 16:43.0
DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
- Sébastien Ogier – 26 points
- Ott Tänak – 18 points
- Jari-Matti Latvala – 17 points
- Kris Meeke – 17 points
- Jari-Matti Latvala – 17 points
- Thierry Neuville – 14 points
- Elfyn Evans – 8 points
- Esapekka Lappi – 6 points
- Bryan Bouffier – 4 points
- Andreas Mikkelsen – 3 points
- Craig Breen – 2 points
MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
- M-Sport Ford WRT – 33 points
- Toyota Gazoo Racing – 33 points
- Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT – 18 points
- Hyundai WRT – 14 points