After narrowing a gap of 45 seconds from himself to Ford's Henning Solberg, Kris Meeke arrived at the final power stage of WRC's Wales Rally GB just 1.8 seconds behind the Norwegian with the momentum swung heavily in the Irishman's favour.
However only a couple of corners into the stage the Welsh ruts claimed yet another victim as the MINI driver hurtled into a half spin watching his chance of a maiden podium slip away.
In reality, events earlier in the rally ultimately cost the MINI ace of an emphatic podium after a mistake which saw Meeke hit a bank and subsequently lose time after damaging his alternator.
A faulty engine mount restricting the turbo's efficiency and ultimately engine performance further hampered his progress and continued to slip down the pecking order.
The resilience of Meeke and his MINI team however cannot be questioned following their comeback up the order and the pace displayed while doing so.
“All in all we had a pretty good weekend," he said. "We had a few issues during the rally, which perhaps cost us about three minutes. Still I am very disappointed with the Power Stage, as when it came to producing the goods we didn't, made a mistake and paid the price, but that is the way it goes."
After the 'overwhelming success' of their debut season Meeke remains buoyant for next seasons prospects, already looking at the bigger picture.
"Hopefully there is a bigger future for us than fighting for third overall, as in a year's time we want to be able to fight for a win," he said. "I feel very positive about the season as for a new car and a new team to be in there challenging for podiums is fantastic."
Team principal Dave Richards echoes Meeke's feelings from the rally and also for also what lies ahead for his team.
"Kris I am sure will reflect on that half spin on the last stage and what might have been, but there have been so many other occasions on the event when we could have also done a little bit better or had a bit better luck," he said.
"At the end of the day when I look back on this rally and think where we have come in six months – Dani and Kris have achieved five top five positions in only six events – quite honestly the team has come of age and this is only just the beginning for the MINI WRC Team."
by Simon Evans