Well, what a weekend! Nobody would have thought that the Peugeot UK team, Kris Meeke and Paul Nage, would have moved up from 32nd place to 2nd in Barum. And it really was touch and go. We made the decision on Friday night after the Super Special that if Kris was feeling as poorly as he was then, he wouldn’t compete on Saturday.
He managed to make it down to breakfast after being seen by the doctor first thing, but still wasn’t 100 per cent. However he managed on SS2 to take third position, second on SS3 and then fastest on SS4 - and with rival Nicolas Vouilloz out on that stage, suddenly things started to look like they were moving in the right direction.
In SS5 they spun, and Kris acknowledged that they were making too many mistakes, However, even though they lost 15 seconds they were still in the rally. But chief rivals Jan Kopecky, Freddy Loix, Giandomenico Basso and Juho Hanninen were still all pushing too.
Kris and Paul managed to keep their focus and by SS6 they had moved up into fourth place, but had Hanninen champing at their heels.
The last service on Day One was a pretty intense one for Kris and Paul, as they had to make their decision on their tyre choice. It wasn’t raining at the time but everyone knew it was going to. As Paul said, “We took the safest option for the championship. We had an option if it stayed dry but we also had 2 wet tyres in the boot so if it did rain we were prepared. We went through SS7 and SS8 using slicks and then between SS8 and SS9 it started to rain torrentially and we put on the wet tyres.”
Kris and Paul really believe this was the turning point of the rally, because they took about 20 seconds off their nearest rival Hanninen and then reduced the gap to Loix. Kopecky maintained the lead – he took the same tyres as Kris and Paul.
On day two Kris started to feel better and, when Loix crashed out on SS10, the boys felt this took the pressure off them. They took the day steadyily and didn’t take any risks as the roads were still treacherous and very slippy underneath the trees.
And they got what they deserved – second place. Roll on Asturias!