MEEKE AND BREEN READY FOR ADVENTURE
Round five of the World Championship, Rally Argentina, got underway this morning with the traditional shakedown. Preferring not to take any risks on a rapidly-deteriorating road surface, Kris Meeke and Craig Breen quickly settled in their Citroën C3 WRCs.
The final test run before the start was held on a 6.01km-long stage, located between Villa Carlos Paz and Cabalango. Close to zero at sunrise, the temperature gradually rose throughout the morning.
After completing their three mandatory passes, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle headed back to service. A few set-up modifications meant a fourth run was needed for the no.7 C3 WRC.
As the road surface was very uneven by then, the Briton was unable to improve on his seventh best time. This final run nonetheless provided the engineers with some useful information.
A beginner at this event – unlike his co-driver Scott Martin – Craig Breen initially completed two runs. After returning to service in Villa Carlos Paz, he set out for a third and final attempt. At the end of his morning's work, Craig set the eighth fastest time, 9/10ths behind his team-mate.
The rally is due to get underway this evening. The competitors will head for Córdoba to contest a 1.75km-long super special stage. They will the go straight into parc ferme, without any service.
Kris Meeke: "I feel good before the start, but a rally like this needs to be given plenty of respect. Recce wasn’t easy, with a lot of rain and mud, whereas the forecast is for fine weather over the next few days. This morning, it was also tricky working out how to tackle the shakedown. The road surface broke up very quickly and I thought it was best to look after the car. If we are to have a chance of getting a good result, we'll need to be on the pace straight away. On Friday morning, the opening stage will be new for everybody, so that'll be a good test to see where the crews all stand."
Craig Breen: "I'm very pleased to be taking part in this rally for the first time in my career. I was amazed by the scenery we drove through during recce. It really is something of an adventure; it's almost like being in an Indiana Jones film! But it's the stages themselves that are going to provide the biggest challenge. You can't afford to let yourself be sucked in by the speed of the roads: there a lot of rocks hidden in the loose ground that can catch you out if you're not careful. Above all, I'm here to get experience."
1. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 4:02.0
2. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:02.1
3. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:02.2
4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:02.6
5. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:03.0
6. Ostberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:03.4
7. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:03.5
8. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:04.4
9. Tanak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:05.3
10. Hanninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) 4:06.4