THE C3 WRCS MAKE IT THROUGH THE LONGEST DAY
Spread over more than seventeen hours, the second leg of Wales Rally GB was without doubt one of the most gruelling days of the season! Seventh overall, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle now only have an outside chance of getting close to the podium ahead of the final sprint.
- The crews kicked off this never-ending day by completing a sequence of seven stages, covering a total competitive distance of 110km, with no service period. After returning to Deeside at the end of the afternoon, they contested another two stages under cover of darkness.
- Throughout the morning, the crews had to deal with damp sections, the bitterly cold wind and patches of fog engulfing the forests of the Snowdonia national park.
- Sixth after the first leg, Kris Meeke entered the fray as he tried to grab a place on the podium. After gaining a position on Aberhirnant 1 (SS8), he maintained his pace until SS11. On Dyfi 1, the no.9 C3 WRC lost about ten seconds after stalling in a chicane.
- Demoted to seventh place, Kris then lost the upper part of his rear wing on SS12 (Gartheiniog 2). He contested the remaining stages with reduced downforce and aerodynamic efficiency, but managed to hold position and make it back to service around half a minute behind the third-placed driver.
- Having returned to action under Rally2 rules, Craig Breen was faced with a handbrake issue from the offset, which prevented him from racing at 100%. As the stages went by, the Irishman adapted his driving style, managing in particular to set the sixth fastest time on SS13.
- After a half hour service, the race resumed after dark, much to the delight of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews!
- The second pass on Aberhirnant (SS15) proved to be incredibly testing: as darkness fell, the fog returned, reducing visibility for the drivers to little more than ten metres! The conditions were kinder on Dyfnant 2 (SS16) and the Citroën C3 WRCs managed to make it to the end safe and sound.
- Still seventh overall, Kris Meeke was some way back from the group fighting for second place. 21.5 seconds adrift of his closest rival, the Ulsterman will have wait and see if any chances come his way on the final day, featuring five stages and a competitive distance of just 42km.
- Like Craig Breen – who made a fine fightback to climb from 36th to 17th position during the day – Khalid Al Qassimi kept out of trouble in the Welsh forests and made it to the end of the second leg. The Abu Dhabi driver now holds 23rd place.
Kris Meeke: "As we expected, it was a long day with a lot of time spent behind the wheel! I stayed in touch with the group fighting for the podium until I made a small mistake and stalled in a chicane: that cost me a good ten seconds or so. But I don’t think it made that much difference to our situation. Most of the time, we were able to match or get close to the performance level of our rivals and I enjoyed driving the Citroën C3 WRC today. Our position in the standings isn't brilliant, but we'll be ready to seize any opportunities if they come up tomorrow."
Craig Breen: "On this rally, the handbrake really is the driver's best friend. And today, I lost my best friend right at the start! The first runs on the stages were very difficult. It was a bit better on the second pass, because I could use the ruts to get the car to turn on the tight bends. It's a shame we lost the handbrake, because the speed was definitely there today to set some very good times."
Khalid Al Qassimi: "It was one of the most difficult days in my WRC career! On the second pass, I was driving on a layer of mud just as slippery as ice. I wasn't pushing at all, I was just trying to avoid going off the road. The night stages were also very tricky, with a lot of fog. I nonetheless enjoyed myself when there was a bit of grip."
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:32:39.2
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +53.1
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +53.6
4. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +57.7
5. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:03.6
6. Tänak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:06.1
7. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:27.6
8. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:04.0
9. Lappi / Ferm (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:41.0
10. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:35.8
… 17. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +13:01.3
… 23. Al Qassimi / Patterson (Citroën C3 WRC) +16:02.3