Copina – El Condór 1, 16.43km
One of the most famous roads in the WRC. Located in the Traslasierra mountains, it boasts stunning views in good weather, but fog and rain transform it into hell. It starts on smooth and wide roads before climbing 746 metres to the finish via three famous iron bridges which hang from canyons. The road becomes increasingly rough and the test ends by winding around massive rocks on which crowds perch roadside.
Overnight Meeke received a 10sec penalty from stewards for deviating from the correct route in Saturday morning’s Cuchilla Nevada – Characato speed test.
Onboard footage showed he took the right lane at a cattle grid rather than the prescribed left lane. The incident happened at the location where Sébastien Ogier hesitated over which route to take, hitting a stone gate pillar and breaking his Citroën C3’s power steering.
The penalty dropped Meeke from the final step of the podium to fifth in his Toyota Yaris, trailing Ogier by 7.2sec and fourth-placed Dani Sordo by 1.2sec. Team-mate Ott Tänak was similarly penalised.
But the Briton blasted up the famous El Condór climb 6.7sec faster than Ogier and 12.7sec clear of Ogier. He relegated Sordo to fifth and closed to within 0.5sec of the Frenchman.
“A bit more to do, the work is not done yet. We’ll see what happens but we’ve nearly caught him,” said Meeke.
Ogier was far from happy. The Frenchman almost stalled his C3 at the start and said: “I’m really struggling with the car. It’s not working, no grip and no traction.”
Leader Thierry Neuville eased through the stage 13.4sec slower than Meeke in his Hyundai i20 and his advantage over team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen narrowed to 36.6sec.
“It was very rough and I took it very carefully with a good rhythm. We’ll continue the same way in the next one,” explained the Belgian.
Mikkelsen was second fastest, sandwiching Meeke and Ogier. The Norwegian was content: “We have more pace to come if needed,” he said.