Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke has scored an emotional maiden victory in the FIA World Rally Championship on the fourth round of the series the XION Rally Argentina.
The Citroen driver along with Irish co-driver Paul Nagle won the event 18.1 seconds from team-mate Mads Ostberg to score a one-two for the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
With just two stages remaining on the final leg it was a cause of driving defensively for Meeke as he looked to close out the battle. Andreas Mikkelsen went fastest over the stage 11 as he continued his recovery from his earlier dramas. Dani Sordo finished second with Sebastien Ogier in third. Meeke set seventh fastest time conceding 11.6 seconds to Ostberg.
The final stage of the day was the Power stage which was a repeat of the earlier stage 11 and it was Ogier who took the fastest time 9.9 seconds ahead of Sordo. Ostberg set third fastest time but it was not enough to stop Meeke taking a famous win.
‘What can I say? It’s been an exceptionally long road. This one’s for Colin.’ said an emotional Meeke as he dedicated the result to his mentor and rallying legend Colin McRae.
It was a great day also for M-Sport‘s Elfyn Evans who took his first podium finish in the WRC after a mature drive all weekend. The Welshman capitalised on Jari Matti Latvala‘s demise as the Finn ended a tough weekend with engine issues. Evans finished almost three minutes ahead of Martin Prokop who took advantage of Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville who lost a wheel when he hit a rock on the power stage ending a drama filled weekend for the Belgian. Mikkelsen also retired after hitting the same rock.
Sordo recovered from his problems on Saturday to take fifth place and the highest finishing Hyundai driver.
In WRC2 Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari took the win despite not winning a stage all weekend. The Qatari driver avoided any drama all weekend to win by 2 mins 48 sec from Diego Dominguez.
“It was one of the roughest and most difficult rallies I’ve driven in my life,” he said. “We learned to be clever and took it steady. In fact on Saturday and Sunday I drove like a taxi driver!”
The fifth round of the WRC takes crews to Portugal next month.