Kris Meeke admitted he was thrilled by his first win in the Intercontintal Rally Challenge after a dominant performance on the second round of the season in Brazil.
The Peugeot UK driver went into the event keen to make amends for his disappointing start to the year in Monte Carlo, when he crashed out heavily in an incident he referred to as one of the biggest of his career.
Armed with a fresh car for the Brazilian event, Meeke soon put the Monte Carlo result to the back his mind with a dominant run through Friday's opening leg, which saw him take a lead of nearly 50 seconds into the final day of the two-day event.
Forced to act as road-sweeper, Meeke lost time to second placed Giandomenico Basso on each of the first three stages as his lead dropped down to little more than 20 seconds, but a fastest stage time on SS11 allowed him to extend his lead as Basso suffered a spin – promoting fellow Peugeot man Nicolas Vouilloz up to second.
Although a slender amount of time was then lost in SS12, Meeke was joint-quickest through the final stage with Vouilloz to secure a victory that sees him climb to second in the standings, three points behind current points leader Freddy Loix.
“There are so many people I have to thank for getting here, going back as far as Colin McRae and his involvement in my career,” Meeke reflected at the finish. “The journey to Peugeot UK and the IRC has been a long one but this is a fantastic championship and all thanks to Peugeot UK for having the foresight to be involved in it and also for getting me involved.
“I also have to the other people back home and my sponsors who have stuck by me to get me out there in recent years and helped to get some results to keep my name in the picture. It's been a long time coming but it's awesome to get a first win in the IRC.”
Meeke's performance on the Brazilian stages also drew praise from co-driver Paul Nagle, who admitted it was the ideal way to bounce back from the Monte disappointment.
“Kris didn't put a foot wrong from the first corner to the final stage,” he said. “I think our accident in Monte Carlo made us work harder and made us stronger but thiose things happen and we came here to prove a point; which I think we did.
“We bounced back from Monte Carlo and it's the perfect way to prove our critics wrong.”