Kris Meeke says it is probably going to a take a few days and weeks for his victory on Rally Finland to “properly sink in”.
Meeke led for almost the entire event in his Abu Dhabi Total WRT-run Citroen DS 3 WRC, taking the lead in the first stage on Friday, before stamping his authority on proceedings in Ouninpohja on Saturday morning, when he beat local star and nearest rival Jari-Matti Latvala by 13 seconds.
Meeke eventually won by 29.1secs, becoming the first Briton to do take the honours in the 'Finnish Grand Prix' and only the sixth non-Nordic driver to manage the feat.
“It will take a few days and weeks for it to properly sink in, but you almost dream that someday you could do something special in the World Rally Championship,” Meeke said. “In terms of rally wins I don't know how you can get much better than this because, yeah, the ultimate goal is obviously to try and be World Rally Champion but like I said, in terms of rally wins and to do it this way, to really make a difference on the most famous stage in the World Championship [is incredible]…
“I think yesterday morning was… I didn't realise what I'd really done until I'd seen the timing boards or I'd seen Colin Clark jumping at the finish line before I'd even seen the board. It was special and that was the point I knew the rally was in my hands and I could control it.
“Even heading to the road section from Ouninpohja yesterday morning, I was confident in my speed but not confident that I could do enough to keep Jari-Matti at bay, because last year when I did Ouninpohja when it was in the opposite direction I did the perfect stage – I thought I did nearly the perfect stage – and Jari took 6.8 seconds on me. So yeah, that motivated me on to say 'well, I'm not going to let him do that again'.
“To be honest when I came over the finish line I knew it was a good stage, I thought if Jari beats me I'll be disappointed, but I didn't expect the margin to be that much. It's pretty special,” he underlined.
Meeke also added that he felt confident from the off: “Yeah, from Mokkipera, the first stage on Friday morning [it just clicked]. Again, it's a stage we've done a few times in that direction and I enjoy it, it's a stage I know quite well so like I said in the pre-event press conference, in Finland you have to be on it from the first knee-jerk and at the first corner you have to be committed.
“The first corner had these posts on the inside; there's a doubt in your mind what the line is for it because you're so used to being able to take the cut and I committed to it and away we went.
“I have to say the car worked beautifully this weekend. When it's just like that, you have to enjoy the moment and do the times and everything came together over the weekend.”
Co-driver Paul Nagle believes it is probably their best performance yet, at least in terms of those winning times in Ouninpohja on Saturday.
“It's been pretty lively in places all weekend but as Kris said, yesterday morning on Ouninpohja was something that will probably go down as the greatest stage of our rally careers. I actually watched it in bed last night and after six or seven seconds I switched off. I was kind of half scared, I thought I wouldn't sleep,” Nagle said.
“It's been a fantastic weekend. I think we started out on the right foot and all weekend there was no looking back. Yesterday evening, like we did in Portugal, we consolidated our position and today was a good steady Sunday drive through the stages with no big dramas.”