Kris Meeke ‘a lucky boy’ after victory in Rally Mexico

A case of third time lucky and with it the luck of the Irish as Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle took their Citroen C3 WRC to victory in Rally Mexico, round three of the World Rally Championship. 

Kris Meeke ‘a lucky boy’ after victory in Rally Mexico

On the back of disappointing performances on the opening rounds, they seemed certain to take victory until a drama-filled final stage where they went off the road. However, they had enough of a cushion to claim the spoils, finishing 13.8 seconds ahead of the Ford Fiesta WRC of Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia.

Following the street stages in Mexico City, the rally organisers lost two of Friday’s gravel stages when the convoy of trucks transporting the rally cars was held up for several hours by a road traffic accident unrelated to the rally. When the action got underway Meeke won the famous El Chocolate stage (SS4) — the longest of the rally at 54.9km. That promoted him into the lead and he ended the day 20.9 seconds ahead of Ogier. On Saturday’s second leg, Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle retained their composure. Opting for a harder compound tyre for the final loop they strengthened their position and despite a slow puncture on one stage led Ogier at the final overnight halt by 30.9 seconds with Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) a further 39.6 seconds behind in third.

Yesterday, Meeke/Nagle were quickest on the penultimate stage gaining a further 6.3 seconds over Ogier, then towards the end of the final stage they went off on a bump on the road and into a car park, but luckily found their way back onto the stage to win the rally by 13.8 seconds from Ogier, who leads the series.

At the finish Meeke quipped, “I’m a lucky boy.”

Meanwhile, ahead of next week’s opening round of the British Rally Championship, the Cork/Kerry duo of Keith Cronin/Mikie Galvin (Fiesta R5) finished second in Saturday’s Malcolm Wilson Rally in Cumbria. After the day’s seven stages they were 20 seconds behind the Skoda Fabia R5 of Scotland’s David Bogie. Northern Ireland’s Jonny Greer (Citroen DS3R5) was a minute and 17 seconds further behind in third. Cronin and Bogie traded times over the opening four stages with Cronin leading by three seconds. Derry’s Desi Henry and Cork co-driver Liam Moynihan (Skoda Fabia R5) were 26 seconds further behind in third.

Trying various set-ups and running with two spare wheels, Cronin continued to use the event as a test. On the two stages in Grizedale, Bogie used all his experience and as fog descended he went 22 seconds clear of Cronin. Henry lost brakes and plummeted down the order before the matter was rectified at service prior to the final stage. There, Cronin posted the best time with Henry a second slower, but Bogie took the laurels.

In the McGrady Insurance Bishopscourt Rally in Down, Derek McGarrity (Ford Fiesta WRC) took a start to finish victory to claim his second win in the Northern Ireland Rally Championship. Fastest in all but one of six stages he finished 24 seconds ahead of Derek McGeehan’s Mini WRC.

In the Mayo Rally in Achill Island, Donegal’s Joe McGonigle (Skoda Fabia R5) took a 46.8-second win over Tyrone’s Frank Wray (Subaru WRC).

Meanwhile, two major events, the Lurgan Park Rally and the International Circuit Challenge were cancelled over the weekend. The usual date was not available for Lurgan Park and the alternative date on May 20 brought obstacles (increased health and safety standards and repair costs) too difficult to overcome. The International Circuit Challenge (April 7/8) has fallen victim to funding and timing.

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