RALLYE DE FRANCE-ALSACE (2-5/10/2014) – DAY 3
After Monte-Carlo, Argentina and Finland, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle claimed another podium at Rallye de France-Alsace in their DS3 WRC.
It was also the seventh podium finish of the season for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, thus consolidating its second place in the Manufacturers’ championship standings.
Stéphane Lefebvre finished fourth in the FIA Junior WRC round to wrap up this year’s title*. He will drive a DS3 R5 in 2015 in the WRC2 category!
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team began the final leg of the Rallye de France-Alsace with all eyes looking up to the heavens and glued to the weather forecast on the Météo France screens. The rain forecast for midday persuaded both crews it was best to opt for a mix of three soft and three hard compound tyres. Their rivals did not all interpret the data in the same way, opting to go with anything from five hard tyres only to four hard and two soft tyres.
Despite the large damp patches apparent at sunrise, at the start of SS15, the vast majority of the roads remained dry. Kris Meeke managed his pace to remain in third position and claim an important podium finish for the World Championship standings.
Meanwhile, Mads Østberg spent the morning fighting for seventh place. The Norwegian grabbed his first ever stage win on tarmac on SS17 (Forêt de La Petite Pierre 2). And he only missed out on a top-three spot in the Power Stage by a tenth of a second, scoring six points at the end.
Sébastien Chardonnet and Thibault De la Haye recorded a series of second- and third-fastest times in their category to finish third in the WRC2 in their DS3 R5.
Alastair Fisher grabbed his first win of the season in the FIA Junior WRC in the DS3 R3, ahead of Eric Camilli and Quentin Giordano. Thanks to his fourth place finish, Lefebvre secured the FIA Junior WRC title*. He will therefore be driving a DS3 R5 next season in the WRC2!
The World Rally Championship crews and teams return to action on 23-26 October in Spain at the only mixed surface event on the 2014 calendar.
Kris Meeke: “We were on the pace right from the very start of the rally. We then focussed mainly on protecting our position. I feel we have been very consistent throughout the weekend and that’s what has helped us to pick up another podium finish. I think we can still improve and get some better results soon.”
Mads Østberg: “I’m very pleased to have made it to the end of this year’s Rallye de France. We had a few problems which prevented us from showing our full potential. But that’s part and parcel of rallying. When everything was working perfectly, we managed to set some good times. There are many positives to take away from this rally, starting with the points we won!”
Marek Nawarecki (Citroën Racing Deputy Team Principal): “The aim was to build on the knowledge and experience of the entire team at this event in order to fight for a place on the podium. Thanks to an exemplary performance, Kris Meeke has made sure we achieved that goal. This third place was important. Kris showed that he was quick and that he knew how to deliver a result. Mads’ rally was disrupted by a few technical issues. When he was feeling confident, he produced some fine performances. It has therefore been a pretty good weekend. With both our drivers finishing in the points, we have consolidated our second place in the Manufacturers’ standings.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDEDSS15 – Forêt de La Petite Pierre 1 (12.33km) – Running with soft tyres, Robert Kubica set the fastest time on the day’s opening stage. He finished ahead of Elfyn Evans and Andreas Mikkelsen. Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke finished in the top 8.
SS16 – Forêt de Saverne 1 (19.36km) – First on the road, Sébastien Ogier went quickest on the first run on Forêt de Saverne. Mads Østberg produced a fine performance in fourth, whilst Kris Meeke protected his third position.
SS17 – Forêt de La Petite Pierre 2 (12.33km) – A first stage win at an exclusively tarmac event for Mads Østberg. The Norwegian finished this twelve-kilometre test ahead of Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans. Thierry Neuville moved past Bryan Bouffier into ninth place. Kris Meeke finished some six seconds behind his team-mate.
SS18 – Forêt de Saverne 2 – Power Stage (19.36km) – Sébastien Ogier claimed the stage win to take all three bonus points, ahead of Elfyn Evans and Jari-Matti Latvala. Latvala thus won his first ever rally on tarmac, finishing ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Kris Meeke. Fourth on the final test, Mads Østberg recovered seventh position after Robert Kubica crashed on the final stage.
FINAL PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 2:38:19.12. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +44.83. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:05.34. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:48.75. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:00.76. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:00.87. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +3:02.58. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:08.49. Bryan Bouffier / Xavier Panseri (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:12.910. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6:07.5…
Jari-Matti Latvala, 9 – Sébastien Ogier, 4 – Andreas Mikkelsen, 3 (including 1 tied) – Mads Østberg, Robert Kubica and Dani Sordo, 1 (including 1 tied).
SS1, SS3 to SS18 (finish): Jari-Matti Latvala
SS2: Andreas Mikkelsen
DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS1. Sébastien Ogier 217 points2. Jari-Matti Latvala 190 points3. Andreas Mikkelsen 143 points4. Mikko Hirvonen 93 points5. Thierry Neuville 83 points6. Kris Meeke 82 points7. Mads Østberg 80 points8. Elfyn Evans 71 points…
MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS1. Volkswagen Motorsport 373 points2. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 175 points3. M-Sport World Rally Team 164 points4. Hyundai Shell World Rally Team 157 points5. Volkswagen Motorsport II 127 points6. Jipocar Czech National Team 41 points7. RK M-Sport World Rally Team 25 points8. Hyundai Motorsport N 22 points
* Subject to publication of the official results by the FIA