Citroen star Kris Meeke faces up to Portugal challenge

Kris Meeke
Kris Meeke

Kris Meeke takes on yet another challenge in the FIA World Rally Championship as he makes his first appearance in Rally de Portugal at the wheel of his works Citroen.

Like in Sweden and Mexico, the Ulster driver is aiming to add to his experience.

“It looks like it will be a very interesting rally; after Mexico, driving the Citroen DS3 WRC in testing helped to boost my confidence,” he said.

“At sea level, the car has significantly more power and there is a lot more grip on this type of surface.”

Meeke showed he was capable of matching the pace of the leaders on gravel in the last round of the championship in Mexico.

“After speaking with the team, I know that this rally can be particularly complicated. For my first appearance in Portugal, it will not be easy. I feel a little bit frustrated after Mexico,” added the Dungannon driver.

“I need to rack up more miles in the car and that will be my main objective in Portugal. If I can keep out of trouble then inevitably, the result will look after itself. What I need is to be consistent. Our last test sessions went really very well and I felt very comfortable in the car.”

Estoril returns this year to the route and will this year host the start of the rally this afternoon at 3pm.

After the ceremonial start, the crews will travel the twenty kilometres or so to reach the capital, Lisbon, where a 3.27 kilometre super special stage will be held in the evening. A long 288 kilometre road section is then scheduled before the cars enter parc ferme at Algarve Stadium.

On Friday morning, the drivers will set off in the same order as the World Championship standings for a loop of three stages, each run twice, split by a 30-minute service period starting at 1.30pm.

On Saturday, the WRC crews will run in reverse order, according to their position in the overall standings. Like the day before, the crews will complete two runs on the three stages, with a pause for the midday service.

After Santa Clara the longest stage of the rally, Santana da Serra will be run in the opposite direction to previous years. The loop will conclude with Malhao before the cars head back to Algarve Stadium.

The final leg will be made up of three stages, covering only 43.87 kilometres of timed sections.

At 8.50am, the crews will set off from Loule, then tackle Sao Bras de Alportel before the final test on Loule which will also serve as the Power Stage.

The rally is scheduled to finish on Sunday at Algarve Stadium from 12.25pm.