Kris Meeke has admitted to being left "frustrated" after crashing out of Rally Mexico and resolved to "stay out of trouble" when the World Rally Championship resumes in Portugal this week.
The Citroen driver had been lying in fourth place on the dusty roads of central America when he lost the left rear wheel of his DS3 after hitting an object on a corner. After rejoining the event again he had climbed back to ninth place on the final day when he hit a rock and was again forced to retire. The event was won by reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier, who reclaimed the lead of the driver rankings from his Volkswagen team-mate, Jari-Matti Latavala, after three rallies in the 2014 season.
"For my first appearance here, it won’t be easy," Meeke said. "I feel a little bit frustrated after Mexico. I need to rack up more miles in the car and that will be my main objective in Portugal. If I can keep out of trouble then inevitably, the result will look after itself. What I need is to be consistent."
Although Portugal is the WRC's second successive gravel rally, Meeke is confident of a better performance, particularly as it is run at a much lower altitude than Mexico.
"After Mexico, driving the DS3 in testing helped to boost my confidence," the Northern Irishman commented. "At sea level, the car has significantly more power and there is a lot more grip on this type of road surface.”
With considerable gravel experience, Meeke can be confident for the event on the Algarve in a car that performs well on such surfaces as the team's chief operations engineer, Didier Clément, pointed out.
"A car that is quick on gravel will inevitably be competitive in Portugal,” he said.
However, one specific factor can change everything, the weather: “Depending on the conditions, the level of grip can go from one extreme to the other. If it rains, the gravel turns to mud and the surface becomes very slippery.”