TOUGH RALLY CHILE BUT MEEKE STILL HOLDS FOURTH
Kris Meeke continues to hold a solid fourth place in the FIA World Rally Championship standings after a tough weekend at Rally Chile saw him finish tenth. However, Meeke is one of just three drivers to have scored points on every round this season, proving his consistent approach is helping boost his experience with the new car and team this year.
After sealing his best finish of the season at Rally Argentina just two weeks ago, Meeke took to the stages of the all-new Rally Chile in a bid to repeat that performance. After a stunning ceremonial start in Concepcion, Meeke got off to the best possible start in his Toyota Gazoo Racing Yaris WRC car by winning the opening stage on Friday morning.
But the slippery conditions and a lack of complete confidence in his new pacenotes meant Meeke was a little hesitant and couldn’t fully commit on the demanding stages. He slipped down the standings but still maintained a strong top-five position at the end of day one.
However, things got worse on Saturday morning. Meeke ran wide on a slow left-hand corner, touching a bank and flipping his Yaris WRC onto its roof. He had to wait on some help from spectators and lost over six minutes in the process.
Damage to the car was relatively cosmetic, allowing Meeke and co-driver Seb Marshall to push on and set competitive times, even without a front windscreen and despite it being difficult to hear the pacenotes inside the car.
With a full repair carried out in service, the pair pushed on with their mission to climb up the leader-board and salvage as many championship points as possible. With a string of top-times, including going fastest on stage 13 on Sunday, the pair climbed back to eighth and claimed an extra bonus point on the final Power Stage.
But they suffered another set-back, a one-minute time penalty handed out after the rally finish saw them drop back to tenth overall. Meeke still secured enough points to maintain fourth in the championship battle as the race now moves back to Europe.
Rally Portugal, which Meeke won in 2016, is next up. Based in Porto, it takes place from 31 May to 2 June.
Kris Meeke said: “It’s been a tough weekend in Chile. I had some sickness on the recce and some of the stages had thick fog, so we struggled a bit with the pacenotes for these new stages when the rally started. Friday was difficult, we just couldn’t get everything to flow together and I didn’t have the confidence to push flat-out.
“Our roll on Saturday could have only cost us 20-30 seconds as there wasn’t much damage to the car. But it ended up being over six minutes as we had to wait on spectators to help – the team, however, done a great job in repairing the car again. I’m a bit frustrated, we have the speed to push for podiums on every event but just need things to go our way.”