At the end of the 19-stage rally, they were 26 seconds behind the VW Polo WRC of winners Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia.
Having rejoined under Rally2 rules for the penultimate leg and running first and second on the road, Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) and Jari-Matti Latvala (VW Polo) set the best times on Saturday’s opening stage. Meeke was fourth fastest, cut the deficit to leader Sebastien Ogier to 12.1 seconds. His team-mate Mads Ostberg punctured on SS8 and lost fourth position.
By SS10, Ogier led Meeke by 19.3 seconds with Mikkelsen some 30 seconds further behind in third. Ostberg reclaimed fourth when Dani Sordo stalled his Hyundai.
Meeke temporarily took the lead after SS11 where Ogier stopped when the Hyundai of Thierry Neuville had rolled and blocked the road, however, soon after the organisers gave Ogier an adjusted time that put him back into lead.
In the battle to secure second in the Manufacturer’s series, Meeke came under more pressure when his team-mate Ostberg went off and lost some two minutes and ended the day in eighth position.
Meeke retained second place – 35.7 seconds behind Ogier and 24.7 seconds ahead of Mikkelsen. Yesterday, Meeke kept his composure to ensure Citroen finished ahead of Hyundai. Quizzed as to his plans for next season, he defused the issue, “I don’t know, my garden is a bit overgrown so I might have to fix it.”
Meanwhile, Waterford’s Craig Breen (Peugeot 208 T16) finished third in the WRC2 category. He began well and after Friday’s opening loop of three stages led the category and was 12th in general classification. Unfortunately, a puncture on SS 4 cost him over two and a half minutes and he dropped him to 22nd place. On the second leg, a few fastest category times brought him up to third in WRC2 and even though his Peugeot suffered another puncture and a broken damper, he took the final spot on the WRC2 podium where Finland’s Teemu Suninen (Skoda Fabia S2000) took a final stage victory after long time leader French ace Eric Camilli (Ford Fiesta R5) struggled with a power issue.
Elsewhere, Monaghan’s Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta WRC) finished 14th overall – 13.2 seconds and a place ahead of his older brother Sam in a similar car. Killarney’s Rob Duggan in the David Greer- run Citroen DS3 R3T held second in the RC3 section until an engine problem forced him out on Saturday’s 10th stage. He rejoined under Rally2 and finished sixth in class.
In Portugal, Charleville karter Shane Daly made it through to the Rotax World Final after finishing fifth in the pre-final. In the final the Irish Rotax champion was battling for seventh until he had to take evasive action to avoid a collision. He finished 12th overall.
Meanwhile, the Birr Autocross at Ballycumber, Offaly, the final round of the National Loose Autocross Championship and a counting round of the Munster Autocross Championship was won by Ballyvourney’s James Lucey (Subaru Special). Lucey topped the time sheets on the second run with what proved to be the winning time of 3 minutes 31.45 seconds to finish ahead of Newry’s Ronan Mackle (Semog Buggy) and Newtownbutler driver Michael McDaid.