Meeke seeks confidence boost in Portugal

Kris Meeke admits that two heavy crashes on the last WRC round in Argentina have knocked his confidence ahead of this week's Vodafone Rally de Portugal [18 - 21 May].

The Northern Irishman won the championship's Portuguese counter last year but he heads to it this time on the back foot after an incident-filled season so far.

From the high of victory on round three in Mexico, Meeke retired with an oil system failure on the round that followed in Corsica, before a double retirement in Argentina, capped by the biggest crash of his career when his Citroën C3 rolled eight times.

"Argentina was wild – nothing went as planned. It happens sometimes, you just have to put it behind you. I feel okay ahead of Portugal, although I can't say I'm overflowing with confidence," said Meeke, who took part in the team's pre-event test in Sardinia last week.

"I think that the work done in our recent test sessions will help us move in the right direction. I'm pleased to be competing at this rally. Obviously, I have some fond memories of winning here in 2016. Quite a lot of changes have been made to the course, so in a lot of cases we'll have to start from scratch with the pace notes. Concentration will therefore be key in recce, as well as in the rally."

Portugal will be the first time that Citroën's WRC squad will run at full strength with four C3 WRCs. Meeke, Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre will be nominated to score manufacturers' points, while Khalid Al Qassimi returns to the WRC after more than six months away to make his competitive debut in a new-generation car.

"I know that it is a real step up compared with the cars used in previous seasons," said Al Qassimi. "My aim will be to build my confidence gradually, without taking any big risks. I'm delighted to be taking part in what is one of my favourite rallies. The atmosphere is always very special."

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