Belfast Telegraph

Meeke out to banish early misfortune with Swedish success

By Sammy Hamill

It wasn't how Kris Meeke imagined or hoped his 2017 World Rally Championship campaign would begin but he is all the more determined to put it right in Sweden this weekend.

A fourth stage accident ruled him out of contention in Monte Carlo when he was in second place and then an errant road user rammed his Citroen, inflicting considerable damage as he returned to service on Saturday evening.

To compound his misery, Meeke flipped his new C3 onto its roof during testing in Sweden at the weekend and while insisting "these things happen - it is why we go testing", his confidence has undoubtedly taken a knock.

"It was a disappointing Monte Carlo both for me and the team so it's difficult to feel confident coming into Rally Sweden. But we have learned the lessons from the opening round and we'll come back stronger," he said.

In contrast, team-mate Craig Breen is on a high, buoyed by his strong sixth place in Monte Carlo in Citroen's older generation DS3.

Now the double Circuit of Ireland winner gets his first opportunity to go into action in one of the new C3s.

But questions have already been asked how Citroen got it so wrong in Monte Carlo, a rally where they have vast experience. While the new cars from Ford, Hyundai and, surprisingly, Toyota performed impressively, the C3 appeared difficult to drive and set up primarily for wet/dry tarmac instead of the snowy, icy conditions which prevailed.

Not only did Meeke crash but Stephane Lefebrve also went off the road on the second stage.

Having invested so much in the new car, they can't afford to get it wrong again and having tested extensively in Sweden last month and again at the weekend, Citroen will be looking for a vastly improved performance from the C3 and their drivers.

Meeke was one of the pre-season title favourites but Monte Carlo winner Sebastien Ogier, his new Ford team-mate Ott Tanak and Hyundai's Thierry Neuville are already looking stronger.

Belfast Telegraph

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