Rally Mexico: Meeke seals fourth WRC win despite late car park scare

Kris Meeke survived an excursion into a car park on the final stage of Rally Mexico to give Citroen its first World Rally Championship victory of the year

Rally Mexico: Meeke seals fourth WRC win despite late car park scare

The Northern Irishman had built a lead of more than 40 seconds over second-place man Sebastien Ogier before the final stage and looked to be in control of proceedings, before going off the road on the powerstage, narrowly avoiding a bunch of parked cars.

Meeke was however able to recover to the road, and claimed victory by an eventual margin of 13.8s - his fourth in the WRC and Citroen's first with its new-for-2017 C3 WRC car - in the most dramatic of finishes.

Such was his shock, Meeke could not climb onto the roof of his car at the end of the stage to celebrate and had to be helped up by co-driver Paul Nagle.

Meeke was second after Thursday's opening superspecial in Mexico City, and took the lead as soon as the Friday schedule - truncated after the morning's stages were cancelled as trucks carrying the cars back to Leon from the capital got caught in traffic - got underway.

While the M-Sport Fords, Hyundai and Toyota all struggled on the opening day with varying powerplant issues, Meeke sailed through relatively unscathed.

A spin at a key moment for a second consecutive event meant Ogier could not challenge for victory.

The Frenchman spun on Saturday afternoon when Meeke's lead margin had been just over 20s, and later lost another 10s.

But Ogier held a comfortable second all the while, with his podium finish allowing him to retake the championship lead and extend M-Sports manufacturers' points lead.

Thierry Neuville was left reeling from a fuel filter issue that plagued Friday, but was able to finish a rally for the first time in 2017 after crashing on the Saturday of the first two rounds in Monte Carlo and Sweden.

He took third in his Hyundai i20, and also grabbed the maximum five points for winning the power stage.

Ott Tanak finished off the podium for the first time in 2017 in fourth place, heading the second i20 of Hayden Paddon who, like Tanak, had dispatched the Toyota of Juho Hanninen to take his place on the leaderboard Saturday afternoon.

Jari-Matti Latvala took sixth in the lead Toyota Yaris, the Finn losing over two minutes sweeping the road with engine concerns on Friday and the championship lead in the process.

Latvala's team-mate Juho Hanninen took seventh despite suffering from illness all weekend, ahead of Dani Sordo - who had a rollercoaster event.

Sordo suffered the fuel filter issues that plagued his team-mates, but was also given a 10-minute penalty for not finishing Friday's superspecial that was later overturned.

Elfyn Evans was ninth, having been handicapped by a five-minute penalty for changing his engine pre-event.

The Welshman did however score another fastest stage time in his DMACK M-Sport Fiesta.

A titanic battle for WRC2 honours was decided on the penultimate stage as M-Sport and Skoda works drivers Eric Camilli and Pontus Tidemand duelled for the win.

Camilli had unseated Rally Sweden winner Tidemand on Saturday after taking chunks of time, including 20s alone on the first stage of the morning.

But on the penultimate stage of the day Tidemand took the lead back with a rapid time, combined with Camilli gambling on a wet set-up for rain that never arrived.

The Swede secured 10th overall and the win.

FINAL CLASSIFICATION:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 3h22m04.6s
2 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 13.8s
3 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 59.7s
4 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 2m18.3s
5 Hayden Paddon, J.Kennard Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 3m32.9s
6 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 4m40.3s
7 Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 5m06.2s
8 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 5m22.7s
9 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 8m41.8s
10 Pontus Tidemand, J.Andersson Skoda Motorsport Skoda 10m51.9s

shares
comments
Rally Mexico: Citroen driver Meeke closes in on win as Ogier spins
Previous article

Rally Mexico: Citroen driver Meeke closes in on win as Ogier spins

Next article

Rally Mexico: Meeke says he left WRC win 'in the hands of the gods'

Rally Mexico: Meeke says he left WRC win 'in the hands of the gods'
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Plus

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Autosport was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022
How the WRC captures its stunning visuals Plus

How the WRC captures its stunning visuals

Whether it’s the mountains of Monte Carlo, the snow of Sweden or the Kenya Savannah, the World Rally Championship is able to beam some of motorsport’s most spectacular footage to television screens while operating in the harshest of environments. Autosport went behind the scenes to unearth the secrets that make this logistical challenge possible

WRC
Jul 7, 2022