The FIA World Rally Championship is reaching its climax with the penultimate Spanish round staged on mixed surfaces.
And the task facing Kris Meeke and his teammate Mads Ostberg is to defend their second overall position in the race for the Manufacturers’ Team Award. Khalid Al Qassimi and his Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson will be competing alongside them in the team’s third Citroen DS 3 WRC. Since 2010, Rally de Espana has become something of a special round on the World Rally Championship calendar.
Based in Catalonia, this mixed-surface event serves up a unique course for the crews, with the opening leg held on gravel before switching to tarmac for Saturday and Sunday.
“I really like the idea of a rally made up of one day on gravel and two days on tarmac,” Meeke said.
Although I do not know the gravel stages very well, the roads are very beautiful. “Since we start later tomorrow morning, we should avoid any problems due to the dust. On asphalt, the route is fantastic. Last year, we were very competitive and the DS 3 WRC was perfect.
“We only lost out on a big result after picking up two punctures. The new stages mean we will have to work on our pace notes. If we have a trouble-free week-end, then a podium should be a realistic target, but the real goal is to consolidate our second place.”
The shakedown takes place on Thursday morning with the opening special stage later that evening.
The action continues on Friday and on Saturday and Sunday with an early start on Sunday at 6am due to the clocks changing.