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Meeke seeks a confidence boost after his battles in Rally Argentina

 

By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke dominated Rally Portugal last year and might well have been expected to be in buoyant mood ahead of tonight's ceremonial start at Guimarães Castle near Porto.

But having been spun like clothes in a washing machine during Rally Argentina he admits his confidence has taken a knock and he is on the back foot.

From the highs of victory on round three in Mexico and leading in Corsica until an oil system failure brought his Citroen to a halt, Meeke then suffered the biggest crash of his career in Argentina, his C3 somersaulting eight times.

"Argentina was wild - nothing went as planned. It happens sometimes but you just have to put it behind you. I feel okay ahead of Portugal, although I can't say I'm overflowing with confidence," said Meeke.

The Dungannon driver was back behind the wheel in Sardinia last week for a pre-Portugal test and YouTube videos showed him back up to speed again.

"I think that the work we've done in our recent tests will help us move in the right direction and I'm pleased Portugal is next for I obviously have good memories of winning here in 2016.

"But to be honest that doesn't mean a lot when you look back at what has happened so far this season. Rallies where I have a fairly good record, like Argentina, didn't go as expected but I won in Mexico where I've always struggled.

"It has been a topsy-turvy year so far and now I need to get my confidence back and put some points on the board for the team."

Citroen will field four of the new C3s for the first time in Portugal with Craig Breen, the team's top points scorer, and Stephane Lefebrve being joined by their Abu Dhabi sponsor Khalid Al Qassimi and his Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson.

World champion Sebastien Ogier leads the WRC standings for Ford ahead of Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala with Hyundai's Thierry Neuville in third after back-to-back wins in Corsica and Argentina.

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