Citroen’s Kris Meeke finally claimed his maiden WRC victory in Argentina, defeating his teammate Mads Ostberg to become the first Briton to win at this level since his late mentor Colin McRae in 2002.
The final day was a short 32km blast, following on from the punishing 10 stages that had gone before, with many drivers likening it to the car-destroying Safari or Acropolis events of yore.
Having crashed out of every round so far this year, Meeke cruised through the two runs of El Condor. Ostberg closed to within 27s going into the final stage, but Meeke held on to win by 18.1s over the final run through it.
"This one's for Colin"
“What can I say? It’s been an exceptionally long road,” said Meeke before becoming overwhelmed. He recomposed himself to add: “The one guy who did most [for my career] isn’t here – this one’s for Colin.”
Ostberg battled illness throughout the event, and lost time on the opening day that cost him his shot at his second WRC win.
“It’s been a very tough weekend, we worked really hard to get through it. Bit disappointing at the end, bearing in mind we lost time on SS1 with a technical problem,” said Ostberg, referring to an engine issue.
Elfyn Evans suffered a last-minute problem on his M-Sport Ford Fiesta, which toured through the closing kilometres of the Powerstage, dropping over a minute but retaining his first-ever WRC podium.
Latvala forced out
At the start of the day Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala had his sights set on Ostberg’s second place, but was struck by a fuel supply issue in his Polo’s engine, and checked in late for the opening stage – gaining a 20s penalty.
With his car ‘sounding like a tractor’, Latvala was forced to retire in the stage as the problem became terminal.
The Powerstage claimed two victims: first VW’s Andreas Mikkelsen, who smashed a wheel on a rock after 400 metres, then Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville hit the same rock, almost rolling and removing his left-rear wheel. That lost his fourth place, inherited by privateer Martin Prokop’s Ford.
VW’s Sebastien Ogier won the three points on offer in the Powerstage, ahead of Dani Sordo – who finished fifth overall – and Ostberg.
Hyundai's Hayden Paddon rejoined today after the accident that injured six spectators yesterday, one seriously.
He admitted he was "just driving through today. I don't have a lot of confidence in the bumps. A bit rough for me."