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Monte Carlo Rally WRC: Kris Meeke fastest on shakedown for Toyota

Kris Meeke set the pace on shakedown for the 2019 World Rally Championship opening Monte Carlo Rally on Thursday

The Northern Irishman refused to read anything into his time, as he starts the first event of his WRC return with Toyota.

Meeke posted a time a tenth of a second faster than six-time Monte winner and defending champion Sebastien Ogier in second place, as he completed five runs of the two-mile stage - which was run in dry, sunny conditions.

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"It's shakedown," Meeke said. "In fact, in those conditions, it was probably a good test for Corsica! It was bone dry, different to the conditions we're expecting tonight."

Meeke admitted his first meaningful action in a Yaris WRC did not go to plan when he forgot to use the launch control on the startline.

"I tested in mid-December, so it's a while [since I was in the car] and I'm still finding my way around a little bit," he said.

"With a couple of seconds to go before the start, I went on the throttle and it was: 'Waaaa, bap, bap, bap, bap!'

"I was: 'Why's it not holding the revs?' Then I remembered...

"After that it was great, everything worked really well. You can test as much as you want, but it's only when you get into the rally environment that you find out more.

"Let's see what happens, but I'm happy to be here and happy with my car."

The first shakedown of the season was a positive one for Citroen's all-new team with Esapekka Lappi backing Ogier up with third quickest, half a second down on Meeke.

Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala were fourth and fifth fastest in their Toyotas.

Thierry Neuville was first of the Hyundais in sixth, 1.6s down on Meeke's benchmark. M-Sport men Teemu Suninen and Elfyn Evans were close behind the Belgian.

Sebastien Loeb's first WRC shakedown in a Hyundai i20 Coupe ended with him 10th fastest, with his quickest run 2.9s off the pace and coming on his fifth attempt at the stage on the outskirts of Gap.

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