Belfast Telegraph

Kris Meeke pays penalty for gravel crash

By Sammy Hamill

Sardinia may be a beautiful island but it doesn't figure high on Kris Meeke's list of favourite destinations.

Its narrow, rocky, dusty roads have caused him pain in the past but never more so than this year’s Rally Italia Sardegna.

A crash on the first proper gravel stage of round  six of the World championship was a throwback to the bad old days before he won in Argentina last month.

His Citroen DS3 was repaired and Meeke was able to re-join under Rally2 rules but with penalties of over an hour he was never going to figure in the all-important points positions.

“It was a disaster to be honest,” was his frank assessment.

“I was struggling to find a rhythm from the start and had made a mistake earlier in the stage but got away with it.

“Then I  was caught out by a right-hander which tightened over a blind crest.

“The rear of the car hit the bank and I thought it might flick us back onto the road but it sent us into a roll.

The first impact was quite big and we lost a rear wheel.

“The team did a great job in repairing the car but with the penalties it was never going to be possible to pick up points.

“After our good results in Argentina and Portugal it was desperately disappointing.”

His team-mate Mads Ostberg salvaged fifth place points for Citroen but Sebastien Ogier  won for the fourth time this season to extend his and Volkswagen’s lead in the championship.

He had been overshadowed for most of the first two days by the unsung New Zealander Hayden Paddon until he spun his Hyundai late on Saturday and then suffered transmission trouble.

Even so, Paddon went on to finish second, his best WRC result, ahead of team-mate Thierry Neuville with Ford’s Elfyn Evans fourth, Ostberg fifth and VW’s Jari-Matti Latvala sixth.

Chris Patterson was 10th alongside the third Citroen driver Khalid Al Qassimi and Marshall Clarke partnered Abdulaziz Al Kuwari (Ford) to 11th, fourth in WRC2.

Meanwhile, there was no joy either for Jonny Kane in the Le Mans 24-hour race, as he and Strakka team-mates Danny Watts and Nick Leventis retired after 18 hours when their LMP2 Dome-Nissan jammed in gear.

The race saw Porsche return in triumph, finished first and second with victory going to Force India F1 driver Nico Hulkenberg, Earl Bamber and England’s Nick Tandy. Former F1 star Mark Webber  shared the second car with  New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley and Germany’s Timo Bernhard.

Audi’s defending champions André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler completed the podium places.

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