Can Citroën pull a surprise in Mexico?
They certainly might, but it would hardly be a surprise, despite the careful predictions and very realistic expectations expressed by both Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg before the event. Mads says he is still learning about the car and team, with more emphasis surely put on the former. However, the man is quick and does know the surface well so if he manages to find a good setup his confidence should help him tackle the obvious challenge – first time on the gravel in the DS3 WRC.
For Kris, situation is a bit different, yet also quite similar in that he has the speed on the loose stuff, but Mexico is a pretty special beast and any prior experience helps a lot. Both Citroën drivers should make good use of the favourable starting positions on day 1 or the event, but even in that regard Mexico is not just another gravel rally. Long stretches and demanding conditions will tax both men and machines, which means that both Kris and Mads could do well to take it easy and play it smooth, relatively speaking. The win is out there and Citroën will win this year, I have zero doubts about that. It could happen as early as Mexico. Yes, despite them expecting to be in the mix for some points or top 5 finish.
Here’s what Mads and Kris had to say about Mexican challenge.
MADS ØSTBERG TAMES THE CITROËN DS3 WRC ON GRAVEL
“We are still learning. But every mile we cover in the car makes me happy. Before Sweden, I already liked how the car handled. The experience acquired on the snow and this first day on gravel have given me bags of confidence. We are working well with the team. We understand each other perfectly and we are making progress together.”
“Although we have to bear in mind that Rally Mexico will still be our first rally on gravel in the DS3 WRC, I’m convinced that we’ll be competitive. I’m positive. A podium finish would be an excellent result.”
KRIS MEEKE SET FOR FIRST EXPERIENCE OF RALLY MEXICO
“It won’t be the same as in the last rally, where I had to get used to driving on snow. This time, it’s on gravel and so it should be a lot simpler because I already have a fair bit of experience on this surface.”
“But Mexico requires a very different set-up. I have worked on the videos and have listened carefully to advice from the team and from Mads. I still have some learning to do, but I’m pleased with the set-up that we found in testing. The drop in power output could be an advantage for me because I have a lot of experience of competing in cars with normally-aspirated engines. You need a slightly different driving style and so that shouldn‘t be problem for me.”
“I’ll be concentrating on my own race. I know that I’ll have a good starting position for the long first day. The aim is to score as many points as we can on the overseas events. I’d be pleased with top five finish.”