Following a difficult start to this year's Monte, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team showed great strength of character and determination to move up the standings and score important points in the drivers' and manufacturers' championships.
THE STORY OF THE RACE
The strength of all great teams is the ability to stick together and grind out results, even when the going is tough. With the seventeen points scored by Kris Meeke in the drivers' championship, the eighteen points added to the team's tally in the manufacturers' championship and the Power Stage win, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT proved its strength of character this weekend in Monaco, after a frustrating start to the race. Unfortunately, Kris Meeke and #paulnagle ran into trouble on Thursday evening's opening leg – held after nightfall – on the daunting Thoard-Sisteron stage (36.69km), where the snow covering a three-kilometre section near the top of the Col de Fontbelle caught out many of the crews. After dropping just under two minutes on this first stage, their rally was already set to head in a different direction to that planned. Worse was to come for the team, as #craigbreen and Scott Martin were also hit by poor luck on Friday morning. A stone lodged itself in one of their C3 WRC's wheel rims and damaged the brake calliper's bleed nipple. This meant that they gradually lost the brakes on the next three stages of the loop and despite their attempts to perform repairs, they fell back from seventh to tenth place with the rapid loss of three minutes.
This stroke of bad luck was all the more harsh on them because it left them forced to open the road on Saturday, literally tracing a line in the snow for the crews behind to follow. In conditions like these, it’s difficult not to lose momentum. Especially as this edition of the Rallye Monte-Carlo turned out to be one of the toughest in recent years, with a wide variety of grip conditions on the roads used in all four legs. But Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT remain focused on the job in hand and on its targets. The Red Army was never wrong-footed when it came to tyre choice. Similarly, the set-up of Kris Meeke's #c3wrc was gradually fine-tuned, allowing him to grow in confidence and move back up into fifth overall, whilst #craigbreen took advantage of any opportunities to remind everyone of his talent and pace. For example, he set a third fastest time, just 2.2s off the leading pace, on Saturday's final stage, and another on the second pass over the iconic Col de Turini. The team eventually saw its persistence and determination rewarded when Kris Meeke's claimed victory on the final stage and moved up to fourth overall, successfully holding off repeated attacks from those behind him.
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