Kris Meeke and his teammate are on a mission to defend the Citroen team’s second position in the Manufacturer’s World Rally Championship on Wales Rally GB - the final round of the 2015 series - which gets under way today.
The Citroen DS 3 WRCs head into the final round needing to defend a four-point lead if they are to maintain second in the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Based in the north of the country for the last two years, Wales Rally GB retains all of the characteristics that have made it one of rallying’s unmissable events.
The route, like the conditions, are well known to the competitors. Rain, fog and mud are the essentials ingredients that combine to make the stages through the Welsh forests some of the trickiest on the calendar.
In order to be fully prepared for this round, Meeke and Mads Ostberg took advantage of a substantial test session before taking part in recce, with the opportunity to fine-tune the set-up of the DS 3 WRCs.
Fourth in the Drivers’ World Championship, Ostberg has always enjoyed good results in Wales. In nine previous starts, he has produced some fine performances, finishing second in 2011 and third last year in the DS 3 WRC.
For Meeke, competing in Wales is almost like a home event. He currently lies fifth in the Drivers’ standings.
“This is very much my home rally and there will be lots of supporters cheering me on,” said the Dungannon driver.
“I took part in my very first rally in these forests, so they are very familiar to me and I have my bearings on these roads. I love the region and the course, with the surface that can be muddy and slippery.
“It is cold and dark, it all adds to the special atmosphere of this event.”
He is all too aware that along with Ostberg there is no room for mistakes, it is crucial that Citroen retains its position in the championship with the top place already gone to Volkswagen and in the Driver’s Championship Sebastien Ogier retained his crown.
Despite this Ogier and his teammates will want to end the 2015 season on a high note.
The ceremonial start will be held in Llandudno this evening, but the rally proper will not get underway until early tomorrow morning from 6.30am.
After a long road section, the crews will tackle a loop of three stages followed by a regroup in Newtown will enable the crews to change tyres before they complete second runs on the same stages. The leg will conclude with the opening 45-minute service in Deeside.
On Saturday morning, an even earlier start at 5am, with the crews expected back in Deeside from 9.17pm.
The rally and the 2015 season draws to a close on Sunday with four stages, without a service break and the finish in Deeside in the early afternoon.