Classy Meeke claims victory in Portugal

Kris Meeke
Kris Meeke

Kris Meeke scored his second victory in the FIA World Rally Championship in Portugal having missed the previous two rounds in the Americas.

Driving a Citroen DS3 he led for all but the first of the 19 stages to win the four-day rough road event in the north of Portugal by 29.7seconds. His first WRC victory came last year in Argentina.

Andreas Mikkelsen outpaced his Volkswagen team-mate and championship leader Sebastien Ogier on the final day of the event to take second in a Volkswagen Polo R, relegating the Frenchman to the last step of the podium by 4.8seconds.

Ogier won the final live TV Power Stage to claim three bonus points, while his teammates Jari-Matti Latvala took two points for second while Mikkelsen claimed the final point in third. On the final day Meeke set a pace to keep him at the top of the leaderboard realising that a win was within his grasp.

He had started the second day of the event in fine style as he completed a clean sweep of wins in the three morning stages to extend his lead to almost a minute and he measured his pace over rougher afternoon roads to lead by 45.3sec.

All too aware of the dangers on the rock-strewn gravel stages, he opted to carry two spare wheels instead of the usual one to guard against punctures.

Thankfully he needed neither but had to contend with different handling in the heavier car.

Later he admitted that the extra spare wheel changed the attitude and balance of the DS3 on roads that were narrow and which required quick changes of direction.

The 2016 season in the WRC for Meeke is a mixed one, he is down to compete in just a few events as he is heavily involved in developing a new Citroen for the 2017 season.

New rules will come into play which will see the cars more powerful and Toyota will return to the series and Citroen will be back to complete the full season and Meeke will look to bring the Championship crown back to NI.