Palletforce international brand ambassador Kris Meeke bounced back from the worst possible start to the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship to take maximum points from the power stage finale and remain in championship contention.
The Northern Irish driver showed his pace from the start, going fastest through the pre-event Shakedown stage on Thursday, but he clipped a kerb on the opening stage of the Tour de Corse on Friday, damaging a wheel and puncturing a tyre. That damage saw him drop nearly a minute to the leaders on the first test and fall outside the top-20.
However, he stormed back by setting fastest time on the next stage with two further top-three times seeing him move from 23rd to ninth. Meeke mastered the twisty mountain roads on the Mediterranean island of Corsica and, despite it being his first all-asphalt round of the world series at the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC, he continued to post leading times.
That pace continued into the second day as the race moved to Bastia on the north-east coast of the island. Meeke and co-driver Seb Marshall set another string of quick times and went fastest again through stage 10 – even when there was a huge battle at the front for the rally lead – after they stiffened the car’s suspension for the afternoon loop.
Sunday’s final two stages saw Meeke play the tactical game, cruising through the penultimate test to save tyre wear and enable him to give a maximum push through the final power stage, which offers bonus championship points to the five fastest drivers.
Once again Meeke delivered a performance when it mattered, blitzing the opposition to take the power stage victory and five extra points. He’s currently fifth in the championship race and has shown leading pace on all surfaces this year.
The championship switches back to gravel with the second long-haul event at Rally Argentina on 26-28 April. It’s an event Meeke enjoys and has fond memories after taking his first-ever WRC win there in 2015.
Kris Meeke said: “It wasn’t the overall result we wanted from the weekend in Corsica but there are strong positives. I’ve shown we have the pace on Tarmac and that’s given me a lot of confidence as we didn’t have a long test before the rally.
“The puncture on the first stage was my fault, we cut in a little too far and that damaged the wheel and tyre and then we dropped time with a damaged damper. That meant our set-up on Saturday was a little compromised but we made some changes and set fastest times on each day of the rally.”