With Andreas Mikkelsen’s second place in Germany and Kris Meeke’s win in Spain, the Citroen WRT has begun a cycle of positive results at the last two rallies. That said, everyone knows that the physical characteristics of the Welsh roads are different to the last few rounds. However, the performance shown in Poland suggests that the C3 WRC has real potential on slippery gravel surfaces. As is often the case, the combination of weather conditions and the running order for the first leg may have a major influence on the outcome of the race.
“For the final European round of the season, we are going to be tackling a very specific event, and one at which Citroen has had not a lot of success in the past”, team principal Yves Matton commented.
“With each round, the C3 WRC is developing, whether it is just minor details or more significant changes. The aim is always to make the car more versatile and easier to run. Wales GB will give us a good chance to estimate how much progress we have made in this area in the last few months. We’ll be keeping a very close eye on the weather forecast because it will have a huge influence on our performances on the first day. Whatever happens, we’ll be pleased if we manage to get one of the cars on the podium.”
Before arriving in Wales, Kris Meeke will have spent a lot of time behind the wheel of a WRC
As soon as he completed pre-event testing for Wales, he set off for San Marino to take part in Rallylegend in a Citroën Xsara WRC. Winner of two rallies this season – like Sébastien Ogier and Ott Tänak – Kris will inevitably be in the spotlight at his home round. As the end of the year approaches, the Ulsterman wants to be in the best possible shape ahead of 2018 season. For his tenth appearance at the event, he would dearly love to repeat his almost perfect race of 2015, at the end of which he finished as runner-up.
“Wales Rally GB is obviously a very special event for me. I competed in my very first rally here, almost twenty years ago! So it’s the event that I know the best and the surface that comes most naturally to me”, Meeke said.
“Our win in Spain was a great morale boost for the whole team. Having said that, it doesn’t guarantee anything for this event. We’ll see what sort of performance level we have in the Welsh forests. Obviously, a lot will depend on the weather. Running ninth on the road on Friday will be a handicap if it rains. In any case, I’m very motivated and will be doing everything I can to secure another good result for Citroen.”
A six-time participant at this rally, Craig Breen has less experience than his team-mate
But he has regularly proven his ability to adapt and demonstrated his consistency in the C3 WRC. Having finished fifth six times this season, the Irishman will be aiming for a similar result, if not better!
“Between my appearances in the British Rally Championship and the WRC, I feel like I know this event pretty well. I have a lot of good memories here, the highlight being when we won the Junior WRC title. That was in 2011 and it was all more special because my co-driver at the time, Gareth Roberts, was Welsh. After missing the last rally, I’m very happy to be back in the C3 WRC for the final two rounds of the season. As always, it’s pretty difficult to set a specific target, given how much the conditions can affect the standings. But after finishing fifth six times, I would certainly love to do a bit better!”, Breen explained.
The third Citroen car will be driven by Khalid Al Qassimi
The Abu Dhabi driver hasn’t contested the British round of the WRC since 2010, but he is also very motivated to keep improving behind the wheel of the C3 WRC.
“The last time I competed at Wales Rally GB was back in 2010! It is, therefore, going to be an entirely new challenge for me. We know how difficult this rally can be, especially because of the weather, which can make the stages very muddy”, he said.
— Yves Matton (@Yves_Matton) October 25, 2017