Belfast Telegraph

Meeke and co must put the foot down, warns Citroen boss

By Sammy Hamill

Yves Matton has thrown down a challenge to his Citroen drivers to finish a troubled year on a high. He has asked Kris Meeke, and especially Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre, to step up their pace on the final World Championship round of the year, Rally Australia, starting tonight.

Despite Meeke’s victories in Mexico and Spain, Citroen have long given up on the 2017 season and are focusing on re-working their wayward C3 WRC for next year. It has shown improvements in recent rallies but still saps the confidence of its drivers with its unpredictability on gravel.

However, team boss Matton believes sufficient progress has been made for Meeke to be challenging for a place on the podium in Australia.

“Considering the times set by Kris on gravel in Spain and the work done over the last few months to widen the operating window of the car, I think we have the means to aim for a good result,” said Matton ahead of the start of the rally at Coff’s Harbour, New South Wales.

“Stephane and Craig will also need to make the most of this final round to show their speed and confirm the progress they have made this season.” But the underlying suspension problems remain, forcing Meeke to ease back during Wales Rally GB, finishing seventh, and seeing Breen spin off the road.

It will be Meeke’s fourth time in Australia and he says he has good memories of the rally.

“In 2015 I led the rally for two days before losing out to the VWs, but third place was still a good result and I feel comfortable on these roads. I’m looking forward to the Nambucca test again — it’s one of the finest stages of the season in my opinion,” said the Dungannon driver.

“Considering our performance level at the last two gravel rallies, I think we’ll be there or thereabouts.”

Whether the outcome of this final round has an effect on the make-up of the Citroen team for 2018 remains unclear.

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