Nevertheless when second-place driver Vouilloz was hit with a time penalty for leaving the final service after his allotted time, Meeke was elevated to the runner-up position, claiming two extra points with the result that he keeps his place at the top of the points table.
“At the start of Day 2 we were in seventh and, with everyone running at the same pace, it looked like that would be the maximum we could score,” Meeke said. “But today's been incredible – so many of the guys have had the same sort of problem that we had and in the end we've come through.”
Rally winner Kopecky clearly took all the goings-on in his stride, and counted his blessings not to have suffered any of the incidents that befell so many of his rivals.
“Winning last time on the Barum Czech Rally Zlin was important because it was my home event, but winning here on my first visit is just as special,” he said. “I always planned to take it steady on this event, to get to the finish without a problem, because it's really hard to make the time back if you get a puncture or anything. We didn't make any mistakes and that's got a lot to do with the quality of the pacenotes.”
While the drivers' title is anything but decided, one crown has already been secured, as Peugeot sowed up the manufacturers'. Its total of 109 points after the Rally Principe Asturias puts the French giant out of reach of its rivals.
Peugeot has claimed both the drivers' and the manufacturers' titles every year since 2007, despite increased competition from new cars such as the Skoda Fabia S2000 and Proton Satria Neo S2000 - as well as the pace of longtime rivals Abarth and Ralliart.
“It's fantastic for Peugeot Sport to be rewarded again for its commitment,” Meeke added. “It's doubly important from my perspective because with the manufacturers' championship in the bag we can focus everything on winning the drivers' title.”
Overall times - Top 8:
1. Jan Kopecky
Skoda Fabia S2000 2hrs 41m 51.3s
2. Kris Meeke
Peugeot 207 S2000 +2m 46.9s
3. Nicolas Vouilloz
Peugeot 207 S2000 +2m 49.5s
4. Freddy Loix
Peugeot 207 S2000 +2m 58.9s
5. Corrado Fontana
Peugeot 207 S2000 +3m 45.0s
6. Alberto Hevia
Skoda Fabia S2000 +4m 27.2s
7. Michal Solowow
Peugeot 207 S2000 +5m 58.0s
8. Giandomenico Basso
Abarth Grande Punto S2000 +7m 03.8s
* denotes 40 seconds penalty.
SS4. Miguel Fuster
Abarth Grande Punto S2000 Accident
IRC Drivers' positions (after round 9 of 11) – Top 6:
1. Kris Meeke
2. Jan Kopecky
3. Freddy Loix
4. Giandomenico Basso
5. Nicolas Vouilloz
6. Juho Hanninen
IRC Manufacturers' positions (after round 9 of 11):
109 points #
# Peugeot is the 2009 manufacturers' champion.