Belfast Telegraph

Meeke is left frustrated after stall pulls him back into eighth


Tough day: NI ace Kris Meeke
Tough day: NI ace Kris Meeke

By Sammy Hamill

A costly stall saw a fuming Kris Meeke finish the first full day of Rally Sweden in eighth.

He had played it safe on a day which saw world champion Sebastien Ogier fall victim of Sweden's unforgiving snowbanks, and Meeke was comfortably in fifth place on his second appearance with the Toyota team having climbed from 10th overnight.

But on the seventh stage the Dungannon driver stalled his Yaris and dropped almost 20 seconds as he struggled to restart the engine.

"I don't know what happened," said a clearly angry Meeke. "The dash read out said first gear but when I dropped the clutch I was in second and the car stalled.

"Not what we needed when we're fighting for road position. A lot of time lost."

The delay, and a slow time on the final stage of the leg, cost him three positions, but at least he stayed clear of the dangerous snowbanks which caught out his Toyota team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and also put paid to the hopes of Ogier, the World Championship leader after his Monte Carlo win.

Latvala was in second when he ploughed into the deep snow skirting the final Torsby stage and was stuck for over 20 minutes.

Ogier's Citroen clipped a snowbank which fired the car across the forest track and buried it in another on stage six. It was a remote area, leaving the six-time champion stranded. He planned to rejoin today under Rally 2 rules but was already nearly 20 minutes behind the leader, Ford's young Finnish driver Teemu Suninen.

He was only two seconds ahead of the chasing Toyota of Meeke's Estonian team-mate Ott Tanak, with the Hyundai of Andreas Mikkelsen in third, 17 second back.

Former Ulster Rally winner Elfyn Evans was up to fourth for Ford ahead of the Citroen of Esapekka Lappi and the Hyundais of Sebastien Loeb and Thierry Neuville.

Meeke added: "The stall was frustrating because we'd been fighting for tenths of seconds with Loeb and Neuville for road position and unfortunately we handed them several seconds, so we're now behind them. That won't help us much in the morning."

Belfast Telegraph


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