WRC - Meeke: I’m pleased to have been able to show the potential of the C3 WRC
Meeke stretches lead at Rally Mexico
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle increased their overall lead as they produced another flawless performance on day three. Ahead of tomorrow’s final two stages, the Citroën C3 WRC crew now holds a 30.9 second lead.
The third leg began with a loop of three stages: Media Luna, Lajas de Oro and El Brinco. With rain falling in the mountains around León, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews opted to take six soft compound Michelin LTX Force tyres.
Securing top-three finishes on each of the speed tests, Kris Meeke proved to be the fastest over the entire loop. The Northern Irishman therefore took his lead over Sébastien Ogier to 23.5 seconds.
Having enjoyed a disciplined, consistent race since the start of the rally, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau were nonetheless forced to stop on SS10. A minor mistake saw their Citroën C3 WRC slide off the side of the road onto a slope, where it remained stuck. Despite incurring no real damage, Stéphane was forced to retire for the day, but he will be back in action tomorrow under Rally2 rules.
On the second pass on the stages, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle proved to be a class apart. Driving with a combination of hard and soft tyres on Lajas de Oro 2, they struck a telling blow in claiming their fourth stage win of the weekend. With their nearest rivals in the overall standings some 18.2s back, the British-Irish crew stretched their lead to 39.5s.
Like yesterday, the section concluded with two runs on the León Autodrome super special stage. Despite suffering a slow puncture on one of the rear tyres, Kris Meeke limited the damage in losing just 3.5s to his rival.
After service, the day finished with another super special stage held right next to the service park. Kris Meeke drove into parc ferme with an overall lead of 30.9s.
Tomorrow, Rally Mexico concludes with two stages, covering a total distance of 55km. The rally is scheduled to finish at 2.30pm local time (GMT-6).
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"It has been a positive day, since Kris has significantly added to his overall lead. Obviously, he can go for the win tomorrow, provided he maintains a pace that ensures he makes it to the end. Everything would be going perfectly if it weren’t for the retirement of Stéphane, who was really unlucky in coming to a stop just a few feet off the road. It’s a shame, but he’ll be back in action tomorrow under Rally2 rules. The Citroën Racing team can be satisfied about the reliability and performance levels of the Citroën C3 WRCs, which have been perfect thus far."
"Following a solid morning, we knew the afternoon loop could be decisive after going for a harder tyre choice than our direct rivals. I had to make it stick… and it worked! On the longest stage, I was able to pull clear. I’ve now got a healthy lead in the overall standings, but we’ll need to keep it neat and tidy tomorrow. I’m pleased to have been able to show the potential of the Citroën C3 WRC. I knew we had done a good job on the car! I’m also proud to have been quicker than Sébastien Ogier in normal racing conditions, without anyone mentioning the start order."
"Three kilometres from the end of SS10, I got caught out when I lost the rear of the car on a long left-hand turn. The car slid wide and off the road, onto a slope. We were unable to get the car back on the road, as there weren’t enough spectators around to help us. It’s pretty rough for us, given just how many fans there are next to the roads here! Everything was going well up to that point. I felt good in the car, but this minor mistake is a very costly one. I’ll be back in action tomorrow to keep learning about the stages."