Win for Meeke in Spain
KRIS Meeke claimed a confidence-boosting win for Citroën and Sébastien Ogier edged closer to a fifth straight FIA World Rally Championship at RallyRACC Catalunya - Rally de España.
Meeke finished 28 seconds ahead of Ogier after leading the 11th round of the championship since the rally switched from a gravel surface to tarmac on Saturday morning.
Ogier's M-Sport teammate Ott Tänak finished third and moved to second place in the drivers' standings, displacing Thierry Neuville, who failed to finish and saw his championship chances almost wiped out.
Despite his achievement in Spain and a round to come at Wales Rally GB in three weeks' time, Ogier may have to wait to claim the title until the final round at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast in November.
The Frenchman has a 37-point lead over Tänak and 38 over Neuville, with 60 points still to fight for.
Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle set fastest times on nine of the 19 stages, run on roads around the coastal resort of Salou, south-west of Barcelona.
The win was their WRC career-fifth and second this season, after Mexico.
But it came after a traumatic mid-season for the team, during which frustrated team management dropped Meeke for Rally Poland after multiple crashes and Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Loeb were employed to help trouble-shoot handling problems with the Citroën C3 car.
"It's been an exceptional weekend. Probably it's not so important how many times you're knocked down, but how many times you stand up again," Meeke said.
"I've had to stand up a few times in my career. It's a special, special win."