Belfast Telegraph

Confident Kris Meeke not altering course in Portugal

By Sammy Hamill

Even with his highly-acclaimed first World championship victory still fresh in his mind, Kris Meeke says he will stick to his game plan in Portugal this weekend.

He admits, however, that the "pressure is off a little bit" as he prepares to tackle an event which, a year ago, brought him to one of the lowest points of his career. Struggling and off the pace on a rally new to him, Meeke crashed despite warnings from co-driver Paul Nagle that the corner had already claimed Ford rival Elfyn Evans.

His Citroen stranded well off the road, an in-car microphone picked up a dejected Meeke saying: "That's my career over."

It wasn't, of course, and Citroen continued to back him despite several more costly mistakes which continued right into the start of this season. Then came Argentina three weeks ago and Citroen boss Yves Matton's faith paid off with Meeke becoming the first British driver in over a decade to win a WRC round.

It has, says the Ulsterman, boosted his confidence but hasn't changed his approach to the rest of the season.

"After winning my first WRC rally, the pressure is off me a little bit," he explained. "But we still have a lot to do in order to be competitive at all of the rallies. I'm not going to set myself any new goals. I just need to be very consistent and avoid making any mistakes."

For Portugal, Meeke will have a revised aerodynamic package on his Citroen DS3, part of a series of upgrades which he hopes will close the gap in performance on the championship-winning Volkswagens of Sebastien Ogier, who won the opening three events of the year, and Jari-Matti Latvala.

Meeke has limited experience of Rally Portugal but feels a heavily adjusted route could make for a more level playing field.

The rally starts tomorrow night from Matosinhos, close to Porto, and finishes with the Fafe Power Stage on Sunday.

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