Kris Meeke

Kris out in front in Finland

Friday, 29th July 2016 - by Site Admin
Kris out in front in Finland

Kris has taken hold of the top of the leaderboard after a terrific performance on the first day of Rally Finland, his latest outing in the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship.

After a break from this year’s series, which allowed him to focus attention on recent gravel and asphalt tests of Citroen Racing’s 2017 C3 WRC, Kris was looking forward to getting back to competition in Finland. The super-fast roads are favourites with countless rally drivers, making the event arguably the most prestigious gravel round in the WRC.

A pre-event test and shakedown helped Kris to re-acclimatise to their DS 3 WRC after lots of C3 miles; then he and co-driver Paul Nagle started the rally with a steady run through yesterday evening’s short opening superspecial in the host town of Jyvaskyla.

But the real action moved to the Finnish forests this morning, and Kris was instantly on the pace. He went fastest in the day’s opener to move into the lead, and he built on that early pace to extend his advantage throughout the morning. His cause was helped when his strongest early rivals, Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala, both hit trouble.

Kris continued to trade blows with the Estonian and the Finn throughout the day, occasionally ceding a second or two but then grabbing back a similar amount by setting a fastest time himself. The gap between himself and second-placed Latvala was around 20 seconds for much of the afternoon, as Kris backed up that second-stage fastest time by topping the timesheets in SS5, SS8 and SS11 as well. By the end of a long first day of action, Kris’s advantage stood at 18.1 seconds.

‘We had a really good day today,’ said Kris. ‘Okay, Ott and Jari-Matti had their problems, but we managed the gap well in the afternoon. You’re never comfortable in Finland with Jari-Matti behind you, and we know tomorrow will be a huge challenge.’

Tomorrow’s schedule is a daunting one, with eight stages, including two passes through Finland’s most famous test, and one of the WRC’s legendary challenges, Ouninpohja. The classic roads will be tackled in the opposite direction to normal, but with more than 60km in the two runs through this stage alone, it’s likely to play a big part in deciding the final leaderboard.

Rally Finland – leading positions after SS12
1 Kris Meeke (DS 3 WRC) 1h13m22.2s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala (VW Polo WRC) +18.1s
3 Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC) +44.3s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen (VW Polo WRC) +45.4s
5 Craig Breen (DS 3 WRC) +53.8s
6 Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20 WRC) +58.2s