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Frustrated Meeke's challenge on the slide in Rally GB

By Sammy Hamill

Published 29/10/2016

Tough going: Citroen’s Kris Meeke
Tough going: Citroen’s Kris Meeke

Kris Meeke was in fifth place and frustrated he was unable to sustain his challenge for the podium places on day one of Rally GB in Wales. Already more than a minute behind the Volkswagen Polo of four-time World champion Sebastien Ogier and 45 seconds adrift of Ott Tanak's DMACK Ford Fiesta, Meeke admitted he was powerless to challenge at the front.

"I'm driving well and have a good rhythm but the DS3 is just not competitive in these conditions," said the Citroen No.1. "I did all I could but the roads are greasy and slippery and we don't have the grip or traction to set competitive times."

The Dungannon driver had flagged up his concerns before the start, warning that his starting position of ninth on the road would be a disadvantage and saying that Ogier, for once, would benefit from running at No.1 on clean roads.

And so it proved, with Ogier setting fastest times on five of the eight stages yesterday to build a lead of 37 seconds over young Estonian Tanak.

Meeke had been battling for third with Ogier's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala but the Finn fell back on the penultimate stage of the day, Hafren, with a transmission problem - the second to hit the Volkswagen team. Andreas Mikkelsen dropped right off the pace as he struggled for much of the day with a broken driveshaft.

But Meeke was then passed by the Hyundais of Hayden Paddon and Thierry Neuville on the final stage, although the three of them were separated by just six seconds at the overnight halt.

If Meeke was struggling, it was a disastrous day for team-mate Craig Breen. The Circuit of Ireland winner had been in the top six throughout the morning but then rolled his Citroen on the first of the afternoon stages, Myherin, and was forced to retire. He was expected to re-join for day two under Rally2 rules, although with a 20-minute penalty.

The other Abu Dhabi team Citroens of Stephane Lefebvre and Quentin Gilbert were in ninth and 14th respectively.

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