In addition to his IRC duties with Peugeot new MINI WRC signing Kris Meeke has been building his experience by moonlighting with Citroën as they develop their DS3 R3 rally car. Meeke and the DS3 R3 spent the weekend driving through the French Alps and managed to be the quickest two-wheel drive car at the Rallye du Mont Blanc.
The Citroën DS3 R3 made a successful competition debut by winning its class at the Ulster Rally a few weeks ago.
Australians will get a taste of the funky and fresh DS3 road car later this week, too, so there’ll be more news from Citroën in the coming days.
AUSTRALIAN LAUNCH EVE VICTORY FOR CITROEN DS3
On the eve of its Australian launch the Citroen DS3 has proven again that it is a rally champion in the making with the competition version, the DS3 R3, the star of the show when Citroën Racing’s new baby headed off to France and the specialised roads of the Rallye du Mont Blanc for only its second competitive outing at the weekend (4-5 September 2010).
The event was a resounding success: the DS3 R3 was the quickest two-wheel drive car, claiming Group R victory, and it also finished a brilliant 11th overall, coming just weeks after victory in its debut event, the Rally of Ulster.
All eyes were on the DS3 R3 at the mountain roads around Morzine in the southeast of France with the new car was the subject of intense discussion and it had to face several more powerful rivals who were equally determined to make their mark.
Nonetheless, the DS3 was able to once again underline its performance and prove its versatility on stages that were completely different to the conditions experienced on its recent debut in Ireland.
The 62nd running of the rally benefited from glorious sunshine that lit up the spectacular alpine scenery around Mont Blanc. With the crew of Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle at the wheel, the DS3 R3 laid down a marker by setting fastest time in the class on the 12-kilometre Montriond le Lac stage. Building up its pace gradually, the DS3 R3 lay third in Group R at the end of the first morning’s loop of stages. In the afternoon the crew stepped up a gear and strung together several fastest stage times. By the end of day one, the car was leading the two-wheel drive category: a position it was to maintain all the way to the finish.
On Saturday, Meeke continued in a similar vein – setting increasingly rapid stage times to extend the gap to his rivals, while gaining places in the overall classification. The DS3 R3 set its ninth fastest stage time on the fearsome Samoëns-Joux Plane stage before concluding a perfect rally that placed the crew on the top step of the Group R podium.
Frédéric Bertrand, in charge of Citroën Racing’s customer competition department, said:
“The DS3 R3 has been born well, taking two wins from its first two events. Kris drove a fantastic rally. He showed that the car was competitive and reliable, even though our rivals were once again of the highest standard on this fifth round of the French Rally Championship. We made some changes to the suspension set-up and the brakes, so we’re looking forward to see how the DS3 R3 performs on gravel, as well as on Italian asphalt at the Sanremo Rally.”
Back in Australia, General Manager Miles Williams was no less happy with the success in the French Alps.
“There could be no better way to start our launch week for the Citroen DS3,” said Mr Williams. “The DS3 is now set to be as successful on and of the rally stages as the Citroen C4 and it will be a remarkable addition to the Australian market, as our customers will be able to discover this week!”