Kris Meeke has admitted that he was very lucky to escape unscathed from an error on the Powerstage which could have denied him and Citroen victory on Rally Guanajuato Mexico.
Meeke was leading by 37 seconds having dominated 98% of the rally coming into the final stage, but was caught out by a bump after the jump.
The Citroen C3 WRC slid through a hedge, nearly rolling in the process, and ended up in a spectator car.
As astonished rivals, fans and Citroen team bosses looked on, Meeke manoeuvred through the parked cars and back onto the stage.
“I’m annoyed with myself for making that mistake,” Meeke admitted, adding it would be a story he would end up telling a thousand times.
“The car went wide after a big compression and we were very lucky. I quickly looked to get back on the road because I knew we could still win.”
Meeke went onto win by 13 seconds and took Citroen’s first victory of the year.
The mistake lead to nervous moments amongst the watching Citroen team.
“What happened in the Power Stage is almost beyond belief, even if this kind of thing has occurred before,” said Citroen Team Boss Yves Matton.
“There was some confusion as to what had happened; the onboard footage made it look like there had been a major off whereas the tracking system indicated that the car was still moving.”
“When the car crossed the finishing line, we were absolutely thrilled and all the tension and drama just slipped away!”
In the end Matton won’t dwell on what occurred because the C3 WRC’s status as a potential championship challenger has been realised by the dominant win over M-Sport’s Sébastien Ogier.
“We showed the potential of the Citroën C3 WRC in securing the car’s first win,” said Meeke.
“I’m proud and delighted for the entire team, this result is for them.”
Matton said that this would take the pressure of Citroen and justified taking a year off to develop the car.
“This first win on gravel shows that the C3 WRC has some very solid foundations and that the Citroën Racing team did a good job during its development,” he said.
“We’ll now be able to work in a slightly more relaxed manner as we look to keep improving.”