WRC Rally Argentina: Kris Meeke ends British drought with first win

Kris Meeke scored his maiden World Rally Championship victory on Rally Argentina and became the first Brit to win in 13 years, heading Citroen team-mate Mads Ostberg and first-time podium scorer Elfyn Evans

WRC Rally Argentina: Kris Meeke ends British drought with first win

Meeke survived a puncture, spin and restarting his car after an alarm scare to hold an under-the-weather Ostberg at bay by 18.1 seconds, becoming the first British driver to win a WRC event since Colin McRae on the 2002 Safari Rally.

"This one is for Colin," an emotional Meeke said of the Scot, a mentor in his early career, after jumping out of his DS 3.

Meeke was helped by the cancellation of SS9 on Saturday evening - because of a crash in which spectators were injured - as it took valuable stage time away from Ostberg's efforts to erode his lead.

It was Citroen's first 1-2 since Rally Finland in 2012, and Ostberg's second also promotes him to second in the championship.

The rally got off to dramatic start on its first full day of action on Friday, as a number of key protagonists were immediately ruled out.

The first to suffer was reigning champion Sebastien Ogier, who was struck by engine trouble.

His retirement saw the end to his run of five consecutive WRC victories, tied with Sebastien Loeb's 2005 and 2008 runs. Rally Argentina is the only one on the calendar Ogier is yet to win.

With Ogier out, team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen followed with a servo pump failure, and it was left to Jari-Matti Latvala to spearhead the German manufacturer's assault.

He stuck with Meeke on Friday, but suffered a diff issue towards the end of the day, and fell well behind Ostberg after the super special rounding out the evening.

A spin on Saturday dropped the Finn further back from the lead battle, and he finally retired on the penultimate El Condor test with fuel not getting to the cylinders in his Polo R.

It capped an unusual bout of mechanical failures for Volkswagen, as they failed to reach the podium for the first time since Rally Germany 2013.

That promoted Evans into his best-ever WRC finish in third, after a steady weekend for the M-Sport Fiesta driver.

Son of British rally ace Gwyndaf, Elfyn overcame a loss of time thanks to being stuck behind Thierry Neuville on Friday's opener, after the Belgian had stopped to change a tyre.

Evans was caught in the dust and delayed, with team principal Malcolm Wilson calling for Evans' time to be adjusted accordingly.

That appeal wasn't heard, but Evans drove with maturity beyond his years on a difficult rally, and kept his Fiesta well and truly planted on the road to take third.

Neuville fell out of fourth and retired on the power stage, after hitting a rock bed with his right-rear.

The Belgian had a difficult weekend thanks to a host of issues on Friday including the puncture, and won't make any inroads into Ogier's championship lead.

Martin Prokop managed fourth in his Czech National team Fiesta thanks to Neuville's demise, with Dani Sordo and Khalid Al Qassimi the last of the WRC runners in the top 10.

Sordo had a power steering issue on the first day, but once that was sorted, the Spaniard was challenging Latvala for third.

A fuel pressure sensor issue on the San Marcos-Characato test on Saturday afternoon ruled him out of the rally, and he was forced to rejoin under Rally2 on Sunday. He did take two points for second on the power stage, though.

After also returning under Rally2, Ogier fought back to take three points for the power stage victory, although over 37 minutes down on the leader, while Mikkelsen crashed in the same place as Neuville, in his pursuit to earn some power stage points.

Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari claimed WRC2 honours, as a host of penalties on Friday for driving with three wheels ruled Yuriy Protasov out, although he was consistently the quickest WRC2 runner.

Diego Dominguez and Jari Ketomaa rounded out the podium.

LEADING FINISHERS AFTER SS12:

-

LEADING POWERSTAGE TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 12m59.6s
2 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 9.9s
3 Mads Ostberg, J.Andersson Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 10.9s
4 Ott Tanak, R.Molder M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 11.2s
5 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 19.8s

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Sebastien Ogier 84
2 Mads Ostberg 51
3 Andreas Mikkelsen 47
4 Elfyn Evans 41
5 Kris Meeke 35
6 Thierry Neuville 35
7 Dani Sordo 30
8 Martin Prokop 26
9 Jari-Matti Latvala 19
10 Ott Tanak 12
11 Hayden Paddon 10
12 Khalid Al-Qassimi 8
13 Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari 6
14 Nasser Al-Attiyah 6
15 Sebastien Loeb 6
16 Diego Dominguez 4
17 Yuriy Protasov 2
18 Gustavo Saba 2
18 Nicolas Fuchs 2
20 Jari Ketomaa 1
21 Federico Villagra 1


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WRC Rally Argentina: Kris Meeke rebuilds lead into final day
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Rally Argentina WRC winner Kris Meeke didn't even expect podium

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