Kris Meeke

Kris's Twitter Debrief: Rallye Monte Carlo

Sunday, 25th January 2015 - by Kris Meeke
Kris's Twitter Debrief: Rallye Monte Carlo

Hello everyone, and welcome to my Twitter Debrief from Rallye Monte Carlo. I don’t think a driver in the WRC has tried this sort of thing before, so it was good to see a steady stream of questions coming in on Sunday afternoon.

Some of the queries you had were more general questions instead of points about the Monte – so I’ll try to do another ‘PreBrief’ before the Swedish Rally and answer some of them.

In the meantime, though, here are my answers to the pick of the bunch on Rallye Monte Carlo. See you again soon!

Neal Parry (@Rexellis75) asks: ‘Do you leave Monte frustrated after a small off put paid to a podium or encouraged with stage times and pace?’

A little bit of both, to be honest. To get the end result you need to eliminate mistakes, and I made a small mistake. On the Monte it only takes a very small error to disrupt your rally, and we had that. But I had the best reference I’ve ever had in terms of where I’m at. Sebastien Loeb is probably the greatest rally driver the world has ever seen; I’m not going to shy away from saying that – he is quite incredible. So when you’ve the opportunity to compare yourself with a driver like Seb, in the same car and on the same tyres, it is rewarding when you do have good stage times against him.

So I’m frustrated I made my mistake – without it, we could have been on the podium. But I’m encouraged that on a rally where I had the ultimate reference, we were able to set strong stage times – from SS4 on, really, we were on a similar pace to Seb. It shows where we are. But still, we need to be bringing home results.

GTi (@32CPG) asks: ‘Do you think the DS 3 can beat the VW cars this season? Which is your favourite surface to run with your car?’

Honestly I think we’ve made a good step this year. Whether we can challenge the VWs is a tricky question, though. They’re incredibly tough to beat; they had a really solid weekend this weekend, even though Seb [Loeb] in the DS 3 did put up a good challenge to Ogier. It’s always the way in the world championship but you can’t really tell things for sure until you’re pretty much at the mid-point of the season. Monte is specialised, Sweden is specialised, Mexico is specialised (with the altitude), so it’s probably not until Argentina or Portugal that we can make a real call on who has made the biggest gains. But certainly I think we have made a gain with the DS 3.

As for my favourite surface, historically Citroen has always built a terrifically fast asphalt car. The DS 3 is good on gravel too, of course, but we can tend to find it harder when the gravel gets rough and rutted. So the DS 3 excels on asphalt, but we need it to be strong everywhere; we proved last year on a rally like Finland that it can be very, very fast on gravel too.

Peter Taylor (@peter8171) asks: ‘How different does the car feel when running diagonally split tyres, studs and softs, between left-hand and right-hand corners?’

It’s very strange, and difficult to explain – but bear with me! It depends how you cross them. Let’s say you have studs on the left-front and right-rear, and slicks on right-front and left-rear. If you turn into a right-hander with the studs on the outside, you’re going to get big understeer, so you always have to be aware of that. But then weirdly, you get quite good grip from the rear, because the slick is on the outside.

And then it’s the other way round on a left-hander; you’ve good turn-in but as you apply the throttle at the apex or before you’re going to get into immediate oversteer because the studded tyre can’t hold up. It does make it challenging for your brain, you have to make that calculation every time. You always have to give yourself that margin. It’s incredible challenging to drive, and that’s on a dry road; when you get mud, ice, gravel, snow, patchy ice, it can all feel different again. But generally that’s the trend. It’s one of the strengths of someone like Sebastien Loeb, who knows so well what the car’s going to do and can quickly adapt. It does take a while to get used to, and this weekend was a big learning curve because we had every condition possible.

Rallye Monte Carlo 2015, pic by Citroen Racing

Kevin Evans (@kevinwestwales) asks: ‘Do you think there should be more night/dark stages on WRC events? Thursday night was the best in my opinion’

For me, yes. The atmosphere, I’m sure, for spectators is exciting. The dark creates something special. And it’s great for the crews inside the car. You get the tunnel vision, the flashlights going off from photographers at junctions, and it just adds up to a special feeling. I love driving at night. I think there should be more night stages in general; the only thing is that on gravel it can be a problem, because the wind drops and the dust can hang in the air. So it’s nearly impossible to have night stages on a gravel rally – but on asphalt, why not?