Meeke closes on second after scare
Northern Irishman narrows gap to Hirvonen in GB fight
Kinmel Park 1 & 2, 2.21km
A throwback to the spectator stages of the Lombard RAC Rally era, Kinmel Park was used last year for the first time since 1976. It follows virtually the same route as in 2013 over asphalt, gravel and grassy roads around the estate, and is very fast in places.
After losing 1.3sec to rival Kris Meeke in the opening two forest stages, he dropped a further 0.5sec in his Ford Fiesta RS in the first pass through the fan-friendly test after a mix-up at the start left him fuming.
“They gave the time card to us five seconds before our start time. We had no time to prepare and sat on the line for a few seconds,” said the Finn, who saw his advantage slip to just 1.6sec.
But a fired-up Hirvonen blasted through the second pass 3.0sec faster than the Northern Irishman to earn a little breathing space.
Meeke punctured a tyre during his trip along a ditch in the opening stage and with only one spare onboard his Citroen DS3, he cannot risk another flat as Citroen attempts to seal second place in the manufacturers’ championship.
Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest in both tests in his Volkswagen Polo R.