Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle put in a strong performance in Mexico to claim victory in the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). The CitroŽn Total Abu Dhabi WRT crew sealed a first success for the CitroŽn C3 WRC in spite of a bizarre incident just before the finish of the concluding Power Stage.
With the first two stages having been cancelled, Meeke took the lead on SS4 and then held onto it through to the end. The Ulsterman set no fewer than five best times during the first gravel rally of the year and extended his lead to 37.2 seconds on the penultimate stage. But the subsequent 21.94km Power Stage saw plenty of drama. With the goal almost in sight, Meeke went into a massive slide on a long right-hander, left the track and found himself lost in a spectator car park. However, he wasn’t going to let a minor detail like that upset his challenge, and he negotiated his way between parked cars back on the track. He still had a lead of 13.8 seconds at the finish where he was mobbed by his jubilant team. For Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle, it was victory number four in the WRC after Argentina in 2015 and the wins in Portugal and Finland last year. For CitroŽn, it was their 97th victory in the competition.
Kris Meeke: “I will certainly be asked to tell the story of what happened on the last stage hundreds of times in the future. I’m annoyed about the error. I lost control of the car after hitting a big bump in the road, and we were very lucky. I immediately tried to return to the track, as I knew we could still carry on and win. The most important thing is that, with this victory, we have shown the potential of the CitroŽn C3 WRC. I am proud and am very pleased for the whole team. This result belongs to them.”
World Champion Sebastien Ogier, winner of the Monte Carlo rally, finished as runner-up in his Ford Fiesta, a result that was enough to move him up to the top of the championship table, displacing Jari-Matti Latvala, winner of Rally Sweden, whose Toyota Yaris WRC finished sixth. Thierry Neuville in a Hyundai i20 WRC crossed the line in third position.
From 17th to 20th August, the world’s top rally drivers will be competing in the ADAC Rallye Deutschland.