Kris Meeke has thrown down the gauntlet ahead of the Xion Rally Argentina 2015 after equalling the stage time set by defending champion and championship leader Sébastien Ogier in the Wednesday evening 4.59km shakedown.
It was close from the start of the shakedown as Meeke and Ogier set identical times on their first two runs through the Villa Garcia to Cabalango stage. Ogier would set a faster time on his third and final run in his Volkswagen Polo R before Meeke matched it once again on his fourth attempt in his Citroën DS3.
“I enjoyed the break but six weeks was very long so I’m happy to be back in the Polo,” said Ogier. “We had only one test day on gravel during the six weeks, so it was important to have shakedown to get back in the rhythm again.”
Meeke has had a challenging start to the year which has seen various mechanical issues and mistake hamper his progress, the Northern Irishman admits that the six-week break has done him good.
“The start of the season hasn’t been perfect. The speed has been OK but I haven’t been able to be consistent and made a few mistakes. It was nice to have time to clear the head and come back reset. Like Seb, I’ve had just one day on gravel between the two rallies so shakedown was good to get the feeling back,” he said.
Andreas Mikkelsen set an impressive time that was just 1.2 seconds behind the pair in his Polo R ahead of Meeke’s team-mate Mads Østberg. Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville rounded out the top six times.
Hayden Paddon suffered in the shakedown when he slid off road and hit a fence on his third run, breaking a bolt in the Hyundai i20’s left steering arm. Paddon would be forced to make a repair on stage before returning to the service park.
Xion Rally Argentina 2015: Top Ten Shakedown Times
|1||Sébastien Ogier||Volkswagen Polo R||2min 30.9sec|
|=||Kris Meeke||Citroën DS 3||2min 30.9sec|
|3||Andreas Mikkelsen||Volkswagen Polo R||2min 32.1sec|
|4||Mads Østberg||Citroën DS 3||2min 32.2sec|
|5||Jari-Matti Latvala||Volkswagen Polo R||2min 32.6sec|
|6||Thierry Neuville||Hyundai i20||2min 32.9sec|
|7||Dani Sordo||Hyundai i20||2min 34.4sec|
|8||Ott Tänak||Ford Fiesta RS||2min 34.9sec|
|9||Elfyn Evans||Ford Fiesta RS||2min 35.3sec|
|10||Hayden Paddon||Hyundai i20||2min 36.9sec|