Kris Meeke scored his maiden WRC victory at XION Rally Argentina on Sunday to become the first British driver to win a world rally since 2002.
The Northern Irishman headed Citroën team-mate Mads Østberg by 18.1sec as the French manufacturer claimed its first 1-2 finish for almost three years. Elfyn Evans completed a great day for Britain by taking his first WRC podium.
The late Colin McRae was the last British winner at Kenya’s Safari Rally and mentored 35-year-old Meeke through the early part of his career.
“The one guy who did most for me isn’t here to see this. This is for Colin. He helped my career out at the very beginning. He supported me financially through to the world championship. Without his support I wouldn’t be here,” said an emotional Meeke.
He led the four-day gravel rally for all but a handful of kilometres in his DS 3, ending a torrid start to the season in which he crashed in the first three rounds.
He ended the first leg with more than a minute’s lead and measured his pace over incredibly rocky conditions which sidelined many frontrunners to finally reach the top step of the podium on his 58th start.
Østberg fought a fever and an early engine problem to secure his second consecutive runners-up spot. He climbed to second in the championship standings behind Sébastien Ogier, who finished a lowly 17th after fuel injection issues.
Evans survived final stage suspension problems in his Ford Fiesta RS to finish 3min 27.4sec behind Meeke, conceding a minute as he nursed the car through the test. It was a fitting farewell for the current Fiesta RS, which will be replaced by a new evolution at the next round.
Czech driver Martin Prokop matched a career-best fourth in another Fiesta RS while Dani Sordo recovered from the electrical problem which stopped him last night to overhaul Khalid Al Qassimi for sixth in the final stage.
WRC 2 winner Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Diego Dominguez, Gustavo Saba and Federico Villagra completed the leaderboard.
There were just two stages in today’s final leg, but the famous roads of El Condor provided a sting in the tail to a gruelling weekend.
Jari-Matti Latvala retired from third with fuel supply problems in his Volkswagen Polo R during the first pass of the test. Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen and fourth-placed Thierry Neuville both crashed out after hitting the same rock in the repeat run.