KRIS Meeke continued where he left off 12 months ago by winning the pre-event shakedown at Rally Guanajuato Mexico.
PHOTO: Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was second in Rally Mexico Shakedown (Hyundai pic)
Meeke, who triumphed at this third round of the FIA World Rally Championship in dramatic circumstances in 2017, topped the times through the 5.31km Llano Grande test in his Citroën C3 by 0.4sec.
Championship leader Thierry Neuville was second in a Hyundai i20 with a tying Sébastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta) and Ott Tänak (Toyota Yaris) completing the top three in hot and dusty conditions a further 1.4sec back.
“Since I arrived here in Mexico the feeling has been good because we had a good experience here last year, we had a strong performance. Even on the recce I enjoyed seeing the stages again and to see some sunshine after the winter in Europe,” Meeke told wrc.com.
“We had a really good test the week before last so I feel good in the car and that’s confirmed by the times at shakedown. For me to get here for something you can get your teeth into is nice because Monte and Sweden were tricky rallies.”
Meeke will start seventh in the order in Friday’s opening leg, benefiting from roads swept clean of loose gravel by those ahead, and he believes it is far enough back to offer an advantage.
“I’m only six points behind third place and I’m happy to sacrifice some points to be where I am on the road because I think we can still do something good from seventh,” he added.
Meeke set the pace on two of his first three runs while Tänak was quickest of those drivers who ventured out for a fourth pass. Elfyn Evans and Jari-Matti Latvala completed the top six.
Esapekka Lappi’s Yaris stopped during the Finn’s third run with broken front right suspension.
Returning nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb was 10th in his C3, the Frenchman 2.6sec behind team-mate Meeke.
“My first pass was complicated as I discovered the shakedown, a bit the car and everything. It wasn’t easy but the second and third passes were better. The feeling is coming back slowly,” Loeb said.
Top 10 Shakedown times:
1 Kris Meeke (Citroën C3) 3min 41.0sec
2 Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) + 0.4sec
3= Sébastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta) + 1.8sec
3= Ott Tänak (Toyota Yaris) + 1.8sec
5 Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta) + 2.0sec
6. Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota Yaris) + 2.1sec
7. Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai i20) + 2.3sec
8= Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20) + 2.4sec
8= Teemu Suninen (Ford Fiesta) + 2.4sec
10 Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C3) +2.6sec