VIDEO: Meeke victory in Mexico after final stage mishap
KRIS Meeke won Guanajuato Rally Mexico despite almost throwing victory away when he crashed off the road into a spectator car park less than a kilometre from the finish.
A fourth career win seemed assured when Meeke carried a near-40sec lead over Sébastien Ogier into the final gravel road speed test in the mountains near León.
But just 750 metres from the end of the four-day event, a mistake plunged his Citroën C3 through a hedge and into a spectator car park.
A disoriented Meeke drove around parked vehicles urgently searching for a way back onto the road. He eventually spied a hole in the hedge, regained the track and limped to the finish with a puncture and fan safety tape trailing from his car.
The clocks showed the Northern Irishman had won by 13.8sec, ending a miserable start to the season for Meeke and his Citroën team. It was their first success of the year and Meeke leaped to sixth in the FIA World Rally Championship points.
"I got caught out on a bump after the jump at a fast right corner," Meeke said.
"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 my way."
Meeke's error left Ogier regretting a time-consuming spin yesterday in his Ford Fiesta, but second for the Frenchman enabled him to leapfrog Jari-Matti Latvala to lead the championship by eight points.