Kris Meeke

Kris has 'dream day' in Finland

Saturday, 30th July 2016 - by Site Admin
Kris has 'dream day' in Finland

Kris has his third, and perhaps most remarkable, World Rally Championship victory in his sights after a stunning performance on the second day of Rally Finland.

The Northern Irishman and co-driver Paul Nagle started today’s schedule with a lead of around 18 seconds over local ace Jari-Matti Latvia. Onlookers were expecting a fightback from the Finn on his home soil – particularly since today’s line-up of stages began with the event’s most famous test of all, the 33km Ouninpohja.

Kris was ready for the challenge, though. He got up an hour earlier than necessary to make sure he was fully prepared – and it paid off, as he scalped a full 13.4 seconds from his nearest challenger to instantly extend his lead to more than half a minute. He added more than three seconds to his cushion on the very next stage, too, and then another fastest time put a further 2.4s onto the advantage in SS15.

There was a second run through Ouninpohja in the afternoon and while Kris’s advantage in the roller-coaster roads was less than it had been in the morning, he was still comfortably fastest, 5.8s clear of Latvala – who had, in turn, about five drivers following behind him by less than that amount.

Kris consolidated his position thereafter, but even his cautious pace was enough for top-six times that were within a tenth of a second or two of Latvala’s. As such, Dungannon’s finest will go into tomorrow’s final leg with a lead of 41 seconds over his Finnish pursuer. To give an example of how strong Kris’s pace has been so far, third-placed Craig Breen – himself having a great run in his DS 3 – is more than a minute further adrift.

‘Today has been exceptional,’ said Kris. ‘Yesterday was one of my best days in a rally car and today has surpassed it. I don’t know where we go from here. We have a job to do tomorrow but with 41 seconds in hand, I can play it really safe and try to bring it home.’

Tomorrow’s final schedule is the shortest ‘full day’ of the event, with only two stages, each run twice and totalling not much more than 30km of competitive action.

Rally Finland – leading positions after SS20
1 Kris Meeke (DS 3 WRC) 2h22m00.8s
2 Jari-Matti Latvala (VW Polo WRC) +41.0s
3 Craig Breen (DS 3 WRC) +1m45.4s
4 Ott Tanak (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1m54.5s
5 Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2m00.9s
6 Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2m03.6s