Kris Meeke taking cautious road
Kris Meeke learned a valuable lesson in Argentina. He stayed out of trouble, stayed on the road and finished on the podium.
It is a tactic he intends to take into this weekend's sixth round of the World championship, the Rally Italia in Sardinia.
Having crashed out of the previous three rounds, the Ulsterman's position within the Abu Dhabi Citroen team was thought to be under threat but he turned it around with a strong, error-free performance in a tough Rally Argentina.
Much of Meeke's difficulties have stemmed from his lack of experience of the rallies which have made up the first part of his debut season with Citroen but Sardinia is different – he has competed there four times before. But he still plans to be cautious.
"Even though I know Sardinia a little bit from past experiences, I still need to approach it in the same way I did Argentina. It is another finishers' rally," he said ahead of today's shakedown stage.
"We earned our podium by being clean. The speed was good enough on the first leg to put me in a strong position and I was able to protect it from there.
"We're still quite a bit away from the front-running pace of the Volkswagens of [Sebastien] Ogier and [Jari-Matti] Latvala but we are only five events into my first full season so it is early days."
Meeke believes he has put the dark days of Mexico and Portugal behind him, helped perhaps by the lucky horseshoe given to him by a fan ahead of Rally Argentina.
He carried it in the door pocket of his DS3 Citroen and it will be there again for Sardinia.
"It did the trick for Argentina so we'll leave it there and see how we go. I'm not big on superstition, but when people support me and give me a token for good luck I might as well make use of it," he added.
Making his second appearance in the WRC2 category in Sardinia will be Meeke's fellow Ulsterman Marty McCormack, who drives a Ford Fiesta R5 for the Italian A-Style team. Backed by Hankook Tyres and TigerRisk insurers, the former British junior champion is tackling six rounds of the series.
He made a strong start in Portugal only for a puncture to send the Fiesta off the road.
"It was my first rally in a four-wheel drive car of this kind and I was happy with my progress until the puncture," said McCormack.
"I've had a couple of good test sessions in the car since, which has helped my confidence."
The rally begins with a ceremonial start and super-special stage in Cagliari tonight.