WRC A FULL 2016
A “deflating” rally for Abu Dhabi Total WRT!.
Day two of Wales Rally GB proved to be a tiring, somewhat deflating experience for the Abu Dhabi Total WRT and not only because it started well before dawn! Intending to battle for a podium spot, Kris Meeke’s hopes of a top-three finish were dashed after picking up two slow punctures. The team’s lead driver therefore had to settle for fifth overall. Stéphane Lefebvre remains ninth, whilst Quentin Gilbert ended the day in seventeenth position.
Wales Rally GB – Day 2
Once again, alarms were set very early in Deeside, with the morning service starting at 5.45am! The crews headed south west for today’s stages, nearer to Tywyn and the coast of the Irish sea. The day featured two runs on a loop of three stages: Pantperthog, Dyfi and Gartheiniog. On the way back to the service park, a slight detour over the border into England was planned, with a short final stage held around Cholmondeley castle. Covering a total of almost 100km, these seven stages would be contested with no service and no mid-leg tyre change, meaning crews could only use whatever spare tyres they took with them. Like their rivals, the Abu Dhabi Total WRT crews chose soft compound Michelin LTX Force tyres, including for their two spares.
As was the case on Friday, fog and damp patches awaited the drivers in the Welsh forests. In addition to being handicapped by their starting position of ninth on the road, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle found they had two slow punctures on the road sections after SS9 and SS10! With no spare tyre left for the end of the day, the British-Irish crew had no margin for error on the remaining stages. Whilst trying to manage wear on his four remaining tyres, Kris continued to push. However, third place gradually slipped out of reach and the home crowd’s favourite ended the day having lost almost a minute to his direct rivals.
Ninth at the start of this second leg, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gilles de Turckheim held onto this position throughout the day. With a set-up more suited to the muddy conditions than yesterday, the Frenchmen cut the gap per kilometre to their team-mates. Quentin Gilbert and Renaud Jamoul were equally hard-working on day two. In keeping with their objectives, they racked up as much experience as possible on their first world championship rally in a WRC. They reached the service park this evening in seventeenth place.
Tomorrow, Wales Rally GB concludes with a short leg, featuring six short speed tests over a total of 52km.
Kris Meeke: “What happened this morning was fairly unusual! After the first stage, we had a slow puncture on the road section. And then we had the same problem after SS10… I don’t understand what happened, but in any case it dictated – at least in part – the rest of the day. I kept pushing but I had to cope with early wear on my four remaining tyres. Apart from my misfortune with the tyres and our difficult starting position, I think we were just short of speed on this surface.”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “We did our best to try and improve in conditions like these. Our set-up was much better than yesterday, although I still felt short of traction. In terms of the gap per kilometre, I got a bit closer to Kris and that’s the key thing for me. Once again, I didn’t have any moments and I felt comfortable in the quickest sections. It’s another positive point, although I would have preferred to be close to the front. One step at a time, though!”
Quentin Gilbert: “I’m continuing to get closer to the leading drivers, but my progress was a bit up and down today. Several factors unsettled me this morning, such as the fog on SS10, my pace notes which were too optimistic in places and the variations in grip from one corner to another. The second pass went better and I’m pleased to have avoided making any mistakes. It’s sometimes frustrating to see the times of the leading guys, but you have to stay focused on your own targets.”
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Ogier / Ingrassia (VW Polo R WRC) 2:43:25.3
2. Tänak / Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +33.8
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:34.5
4. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:47.1
5. Meeke / Nagle (DS 3 WRC) +2:29.5
6. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:36.0
7. Østberg / Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:15.0
8. Latvala / Anttila (VW Polo R WRC) +4:22.2
9. Lefebvre / de Turckheim (DS 3 WRC) +6:52.7
10. Camilli / Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +7:35.6
… 17. Gilbert / Jamoul (DS 3 WRC) +10:52.8
Media Abu Dhabi Total WRT
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Photos: André Lavadinho / @World