Belfast Telegraph

Meeke: I'm relishing the battles to come

By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke was in second place just 13 seconds behind Sebastien Ogier at the end of the first leg of Wales Rally GB. But he insisted he wasn't prepared to get into a duel for victory with the World champion.

"To be honest Ogier is not a target for me," said the Dungannon driver.

"I have a job to do for my team and that's my focus. But it is nice to be in the fight...."

Meeke's focus over the next two days is to stay ahead of the Hyundais of Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon and ensure Citroen finish runners-up to Volkswagen in the manufacturers' championship.

And he and team-mate Mads Ostberg were doing a good job in second and fourth positions while Sordo was fifth and Paddon seventh.

It was an impressively controlled performance from Rally Argentina winner Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle with a series of top three times including beating Ogier by five seconds on the second run through the 18-mile Hafren stage.

He ended the day 13.5 seconds behind Ogier but 18 ahead of the second VW of Andreas Mikkelsen, who was able to start despite a late health scare which saw him miss Thursday's shakedown, and half-a-minute up on Ostberg.

Sordo was over a minute back and Hayden had already fallen almost two minutes behind, his Hyundai suffering hydraulic trouble.

The Fords of Ott Tanak and Elfyn Evans were also off the pace in sixth and eighth positions respectively.

The big shock was the demise of Jari-Matti Latvala, the two-time Rally GB winner crashing his VW Polo off the road on only the second stage at Sweet Lamb. Out, too, went Thierry Neuville who tore a wheel off his Hyundai.

There was also frustration for Craig Breen who had been in 12th place overall and leading the WRC2 category in his Peugeot until a puncture in stage four cost him over two minutes.

"There was a rock in the middle of the road and I couldn't avoid it," said the Circuit of Ireland winner.

Breen dropped back to 20th and found himself sandwiched between the Ford Fiestas of new Irish forest champion Josh Moffett (19th) and brother Sam (21st).

Further back Jonny Greer was in 25th in the Carryduff-based DGM team's R5 Citroen and Rob Duggan, making his debut on the event in an R3 Citroen as his prize for winning the Road to Wales competition in the Northern Ireland championship, was 30th overall and an impressive second in the RC3 class.

But neither Marty McCormack nor Dean Raftery made it through the opening day.

McCormack retired his S2000 Skoda in service after the first loop of stages and Raftery retiring his R3 Citroen on stage three.

Belfast Telegraph


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