World Rally Championship: Kris Meeke survives late drama to win in Mexico

Northern Ireland's Kris Meeke survived astonishing late drama at Rally Mexico to clinch his fourth win in a World Rally Championship event.

Leading by 37.2 seconds heading into the last stage, the Briton slid into a car park with under one kilometre left as he was inches away from a collision.

Citroen driver Meeke, 37, had to weave his way around other parked cars before he managed to get back to the road.

"I'm a lucky boy," said Meeke, who won by 13.8 seconds from Sebastien Ogier.

"After a jump, I took a bump. It's certainly one way to finish a rally but we didn't need that," added a visibly shocked Meeke, who revealed that he punctured his left front tyre during the bizarre incident.

"I was trying to find my way out of parked cars and trying to find a gap in the hedge. A lot of things went my way.

Meeke 'was in the hands of God'

"I was in the hands of God. I finally made my way between the cars but had punctured the front left tyre. When I crossed the line I didn't know whether I had won or not."

TV pictures showed a number of Meeke's fellow competitors with their heads in their hands as they watched the Northern Irishman's late mishap.

The county Tyrone man had to be helped by co-driver Paul Nagle to climb onto the roof of their Citroen to start his celebrations.

Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville finished third, 45.9 seconds behind defending world champion Ogier.

Leading by 30.9 seconds after bossing the first two days, Meeke won Sunday's penultimate stage to extend his lead to 37.2 seconds.

That left him having to negotiate the final 21.94km stage around Derramadero.

Sebastien Ogier in action in his Ford Fiesta in Mexico
Sebastien Ogier took second place to take the lead in the world championship

The Northern Irishman's late drama left him only seventh fastest on the final stage but it proved enough to clinch a crucial victory following his disappointing performances in the opening two events of the season.

After being strongly fancied to contend for this year's title, Meeke crashed out in Monte Carlo and could only finish 12th in Sweden after another mistake.

Meeke, who competed in the championship for the first time in 2011, earned his first WRC win at Rally Argentina in 2015 and took further victories in Portugal and Finland last year.

The 37-year-old's gamble of opting for hard compound tyres in Saturday's nine stages despite the threat of rain was crucial to his victory as he took firm control of the event.

Meeke's win moves him up to sixth in the championship - 39 points behind leader Ogier.

The Frenchman, who won the season-opener in Monte Carlo, moves eight points ahead of Finland's Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala who was only sixth in Mexico.

Meanwhile, Welshman Elfyn Evans, 28, experienced engine problems before the opening stage and was handed a five-minute time penalty, dropping to last place before the rally had even started.

Alongside co-driver Daniel Barritt the Dolgellau-based driver excelled on the gravel track and won three stages in the DMACK M-Sport Ford Fiesta and made his way into the top ten before finishing ninth.

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