A Second Consecutive Podium for the C3 WRC
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle ended Rally Mexico third overall, securing a second podium of the year for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT and thus confirming the team's very strong start to the season. Meanwhile, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena finished fifth overall. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT closed to within one point of second place in the manufacturers' championship.
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT’s Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle made steady progress over the course of the weekend, climbing from fourth place to enter the final leg in second place. Despite a spin (SS15), the 38 year-old Ulsterman managed to hold onto second position until the end of the second day, with a 10.9 seconds lead over the third-placed driver.
Meeke’s overnight advantage on the third-placed driver disappeared when he skidded on the cobbles under braking, losing 47.5 seconds and dropping a position in the standings. He nonetheless managed to hold onto third place until the end of the rally and therefore take his first podium of the year. The Northern Irishman is now fourth in the drivers' championship. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT claimed its second podium of the season in the stifling Mexican heat to go with the one secured by Craig Breen in Sweden's wintry temperatures.
Meanwhile, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena authoritatively took the lead on day three, scooping a third stage win and moving ahead of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. Unfortunately, their masterful display would prove to be short-lived. A puncture at the start of the afternoon loop (SS14) cost the nine-time World Rally Champions more than two minutes and with it, their hopes of a podium spot evaporated. This misfortune takes nothing away from their incredible performance, six years after their last appearance in Mexico and more than three years after last contesting a WRC rally.
At an event that is very demanding on the cars, the C3 WRC scored eight stage wins (two tied), once again proving its reliability and performance level.
Kris Meeke: "Obviously, there are positives to take away from this weekend, starting with the fact that I secured my first podium of the year and picked up good points for the championship. But I can't help but feel disappointed, not least for the team. I had everything you need to win here in Mexico – the pace, the car and road position – but I didn't do the job. I made too many silly mistakes and you just can't get away with that at this level. I need to tidy my game up, starting in Corsica where we were very competitive last year."
Sébastien Loeb: "Coming into the rally, I felt that testing had gone well, but I obviously had no certainty about my level, bearing in mind that everyone is fighting over tenths of a second, and that it doesn't take much to find yourself left behind a little bit. So it was a nice surprise to be on the pace. I'm just a bit frustrated that I wasn't able to test myself properly against the others right to the end because of the puncture. In any case, it was a very good weekend and that was the initial aim of this comeback. I hope I can now go on to get a good result in Corsica, even though I'll still have quite a few things to refamiliarise myself with."