Meeke takes win at WRC Rally Mexico

  Citroen WRT’s Kris Meeke took the victory at the WRC Rally Mexico, the third round, after an exciting final gravel speed test duel with 4-time Champion Sebastien Ogier. Meeke’s fourth career WRC win came after an incident just 750 meters from the end of the four-day event, where he made a mistake and plunged his Citroën C3 through a hedge and into a spectator car park. However, the Irishman managed to continue the rally and regained the track to finish the rally, just 13.8 seconds with a minor puncture on one of his car’s tyres.

The final day of the rally only featured two stages: La Calera (32.96km) and the Derramadero Power Stage (21.94km). The Citroën WRT crews had to make tyre changes due to the light drizzle at the start of the rally. Meeke went with four soft and two hard Michelin LTX Force tyres, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre opted to go with six soft compound tyres.

On the penultimate speed test, Meeke claimed his fifth stage win of the weekend. He extended his lead over Ogier by another 6.3s, whilst Lefebvre set an excellent third fastest time. At the end of the power stage, Meeke gave the team a scare when his Citroën C3 WRC ran wide on a long right-hand corner. The car ran through the hedge at the side of the road and into a spectator car park…

Meeke managed to keep his cool and got around the parked cars and back onto the road in a few seconds. He crossed the finishing line to secure victory by 13.8 seconds. Meeke’s win saw him climb to sixth on the drivers standings and signified Citroen’s first win in the WRC since returning as a factory squad. “I got caught out on a bump after the jump at a fast right corner,” said Meeke. “I’m a lucky boy. That’s certainly one way to finish a rally and I didn’t need that. I was desperately trying to trying to find my way out of the parked cars and find a gap in the hedge. A lot of things went myway….,”

Ogier would have caught the Citroen driver after his incident for win, but the M-Sport driver also had a spin a day prior which caused him precious seconds. Ogier’s second place makes sure his tops the standings by eight points over Toyota WRT’s Jari-Matti Latvala, who ended up sixth overall. Latvala’s progress was slowed by an overheating engine and brake problems. His team mate Juho Hänninen was classified in seventh in the second Toyota Yaeis WRC.

Third for Thierry Neuville, a further 45.9s behind, was a relief for the Belgian after crashing out of the lead in the opening two rounds of the season in Monte-Carlo and Sweden. He also gained maximum bonus points after winning the final Power Stage in a Hyundai i20.

Ott Tänak maintained his consistent start to the campaign with fourth in another Fiesta, more than a minute clear of a frustrated Hayden Paddon. The Kiwi suffered several technical problems but this was still his best result of the season.

Behund Latvala and Hanninen, Dani Sordo in the Hyundai i20 WRC and Lefebvre in the C3 WRC completed the top ten classifications.

The championship returns to Europe for round four next month. The Mediterranean island of Corsica hosts the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse on 6 – 9 April, the first pure asphalt round of the year.

2017 WRC Rally Nexico results

1. Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:22:04.6
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +13.8
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +59.7
4. Tanak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:18.3
5. Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3:32.9
6. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4:40.3
7. Hänninen / Lindstrom (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:06.2
8. Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +5:22.7
15. Lefebvre / Moreau (Citroën C3 WRC) +51:35.9

Drivers standings
1. Sébastien Ogier – 66 points
2. Jari-Matti Latvala – 58 points
3. Ott Tanak – 48 points
4. Dani Sordo – 30 points
5. Thierry Neuville – 28 points
6. KRIS MEEKE – 27 points
7. CRAIG BREEN – 20 points
8. Elfyn Evans – 20 points
9. Hayden Paddon – 17 points
10. STEPHANE LEFEBVRE – 10 points
11. Juho Hanninen – 9 points
12. Andreas Mikkelsen – 6 points
13. Jan Kopecky – 4 points
14. Pontus Tidemand – 3 points
15. Bryan Bouffier – 1 point
16. Teemu Suninen – 1 point

Manufacturers rankings
1. M-Sport WRT – 103 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – 67 points
3. Hyundai Motorsport – 65 points
4. Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT – 55 points