Meeke’s success in Germany
- 14th August 2006, 10:11am
After finishing Saturday's action on top by the slender margin of just six tenths of a second, the Citroën pair still had work on their plate as the rally resumed this morning. The day's menu included four stages totalling 68km with no chance to service and, given the continuing unsettled weather, tyre choice was always going to be critical. In spite of the lingering dampness and muddy portions, Kris Meeke opted for 'dry weather' tyres and, with his principal opponent Bernd Casier on identical rubber, the scene was set for a thrilling finale
Despite a degree of caution, Kris was immediately the quicker of the two and already pulling clear.
"Given the conditions, I had no intention of taking any risks," said the Citroën driver. "Even so, we started the day at a good pace – not too fast. Our time in the first stage was good for our confidence and we decided to stay at the same speed for the remaining tests."
With just one stage to go, the Citroën C2 VTS crew enjoyed a cushion of 27 seconds and it only remained for them to control from in front in the final 19km test. And with that last challenge out of the way, Kris and Glenn were able to drive back to Trier to pick up the laurels of their first JWRC success since the 2005 Monte Carlo Rally.
"It's a great feeling," beamed Kris after the finish ceremony. "Today's win is a big morale booster and puts us in a better position as the championship enters its final phase. There are six drivers split by just ten points and the title will be decided in the last three rounds of the series. It's up to us now to follow up this weekend's performance with another top finish next week in Finland."
While Kris and Glen were understandably jubilant, Julien Pressac and Jack Boyère had difficulty concealing their disappointment at finishing just 3.8 seconds off the podium despite the French pair's solid run.
"It's so frustrating not to have achieved our objective and to have lost 3rd place in the very last stage," recognised Julien at the finish. "Yet again, I've learnt so much and it's good to have experience of this sort of challenging terrain with constant switches from dry to wet and back to dry again, not to mention the dirt dragged onto the road by the WRC runners. It's exactly this sort of experience that will enable me to progress further."
The final day had no effect on the positions of the two other surviving Citroën C2 VTS pairings, namely Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek and Aaron Burkart/Tanja Geilhausen who finished 5th and 6th respectively.
"I am very happy for Kris, Glenn and for the entire team," says Citroën Sport's Customer Competition Manager Yves Matton. "Paradoxically, though, I can't help feeling something's missing. Given how competitive and reliable the Citroën C2 VTS has been these past two seasons, I am relatively disappointed to see only one car on the podium here in Germany. I hope we will see the other drivers challenging for victory too in the future…"
Finally, French crew Brice Tirabassi/Fabrice Gordon have withdrawn from Rally Finland which starts next Friday. The 2003 Junior World Champion needs time to recover from his off on the seventh stage of this weekend's event. Their place in the P.H. Sport JWRC line-up will be taken by Fabien Fiandino and his co-driver Sabrina De Castelli. Fabien, who competes in this year's French series with a C2 VTS, will have the task of giving the Citroën C2-R2 its maiden outing at junior world championship level.
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