WRC Rally Australia: Important podium for Meeke

Britain’s Kris Meeke took a crucial podium finish on Rally Australia this weekend to draw a line under a troubled few events. Meeke led for almost half of the event in Coffs Harbour before having to concede defeat on the final day to the Volkswagen’s of Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala.
Kris Meeke Aus

Still it was a fine performance from the under-fire Ulsterman, who has come under criticism from Citroen boss Yves Matton after error-strewn events in Sardinia, Poland, Finland and Germany.

“We achieved the first target which was to make it to the finish and be consistent. I would point out that we led the rally for almost two days. I think we did a very good job and we couldn’t really have expected to do much more on the final leg. We have to keep working hard,” Meeke said.

Speaking in the post-event press conference, he added: “I’m quite happy now after a few troubled events, there were some little mistakes with a big penalty. We’ve had a consistent weekend.

“I had half an idea something special could happen with the good road position we had [on Friday and Saturday], but finally [on the final day] they were too strong. I’ve had close to the perfect weekend and it’s frustrating not to capitalise when we have had the good road position. But this morning the true pace [of the Volkswagens] was in evidence.

“It’s frustrating for him [Ogier] when he sweeps the gravel – welcome to our world. It’s not possible for us at the moment.

“We had a few mistakes, but it’s important at this time of the season to be here next year to enable us to fight.

“[As I said] I’m happy with the points and the podium. And I should have mentioned at the start, congratulations to Seb, Julien [Ingrassia] and Volkswagen on an incredible job. They have set the target high above and we all have to try and reach it.”

Asked if he thinks he has done enough now to appease Matton and keep his Citroen seat in 2016, Meeke replied: “I have no idea, I haven’t spoken to him. There have been no discussions on the contract and maybe it’s not just Yves; I have to talk to everybody, I just need to make sure I’m in the WRC next year.”

Meanwhile, Meeke’s co-driver Paul Nagle admitted the result was something of a relief.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend, near faultless. We were up front for some of Friday and most of Saturday – we’ve been racing all weekend. It’s great to be back on the podium and in the press conference, it’s given us a bit of fresh air and taken some of the weight off the shoulders to be back here,” he added.

Quizzed on if there was more pressure on them after regular team-mate Mads Ostberg had to pull out following his recce crash, Nagle continued: “No, there’s usually pressure on us.

“If we make a mistake, the world’s on our back. That’s part and parcel of what we do and we deal with it as normal. We’ve done our job the way we should. This was a result we needed – and Citroen needed, it’s good for [them in] the manufacturers’.”