CLICK HERE for Rally de Portugal result

Kris Meeke took a controlled and calculated victory on Rally de Portugal today to secure his second win in the World Rally Championship, leading for all but one of the stages in his Citroen DS 3 WRC.

Meeke had a comfortable 45.3 second advantage coming into the final leg and with "time in his pocket" was able to take it relatively cautiously through the last four tests, although he was still third quickest in SS16 and SS17 and fourth in SS18. He was then eighth in the Power Stage to finish 29.7 seconds up on his closest rival.

"I have to say a nearly perfect weekend - textbook stuff," Meeke said, "and a huge thank you to the team and especially my engineer.

"This year is about gathering experience. We had a good road position, especially on Saturday but I couldn't have done any more. It shows the DS 3 is still a very good car. For me too as a driver, it's another good step.

"I'm very excited for 2017."

Meeke took the lead on Friday in the first 'proper' test, before then going quickest again in SS3 and second in SS4 to return to the mid-day service with an 11.5 second advantage over Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier.

The Briton then won SS6 and SS7 in the afternoon, and was later awarded the winning time for SS5 after the test was stopped following the fiery exits of Hayden Paddon and Ott Tanak. Meeke eventually ended the first day with a 31.9 second cushion.

On Saturday, the Ulsterman made the most of his superior road position in the morning and was unbeatable, winning all three tests to increase his overnight lead to just over a minute. That meant he could adopt "a bit of a safer approach" from then on, en-route to his eventual win.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen came through to take second, upping his pace on Saturday and then overhauling Ogier when the Frenchman lost time with a puncture in the first test on Sunday.

"I'm really happy with the performance, probably one of my best WRC rallies," Mikkelsen said. "It is really nice to win against Sebastien in similar conditions. Big thanks to Richard [Brown, my engineer], who made the car work very well - it was perfect."

Ogier lost out with his road position on the first two days and on Sunday actually picked up two punctures, but could still win the Power Stage. The result further increases his lead in the Drivers' Championship now up from 39 points to 47.

"We had some issue before the start again, so I'm happy to be here," Ogier remarked.

Asked about the issue, he told WRC Live: "I had another puncture, so two and only one spare. Luckily it was a slow puncture and I was able to get enough air in for the stage."

Behind, Dani Sordo was fourth for Hyundai in podium contention on Friday, before slipping back on day two and finishing up over a minute off Ogier and Mikkelsen ahead.

M-Sport's Eric Camilli put in his best performance yet in his Fiesta RS WRC and after a difficult start to the season was fifth, despite a scare in the final stage when he spun after losing the handbrake.

Jari-Matti Latvala had to settle for sixth in his VW Polo R WRC after power steering problems on Friday afternoon that cost him over 3 minutes.

Further back, Mads Ostberg took seventh in his M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, losing out on Saturday morning with two broken driveshafts that left him with front-wheel drive only.

Ford privateer Martin Prokop completed the top eight in his second WRC event of the season, while WRC2 winner Pontus Tidemand and Nicolas Fuchs came in ninth and tenth.

Tidemand dominated the WRC2 class in his Skoda Fabia R5, winning by over a minute, despite briefly losing the lead on Saturday in SS14 when he had a puncture. Apart from that he led for every single stage.

Of the rest, Yazeed Al-Rajhi finished just outside the top-ten in P11, with Marius Aasen 12th - and third in WRC2, 0.2secs up on Scott Pedder after the latter spun near the end of the final stage.

Khalid Al-Qassimi, Henning Solberg, Thierry Neuville and Stephane Lefebvre all finished under Rally 2 in positions 26th, 28th, 29th and 32nd respectively.

Solberg, who had been 12th, went off the road on Friday in SS7. Lefebvre hit a rock on Saturday in SS10 and was forced out from 6th, while Neuville stopped a stage later when he ran out of fuel. The Belgian had been 5th. Al-Qassimi retired on Saturday afternoon, when he went off the road in SS13 and damaged the front of the car.

As for retirements, in addition to Paddon and Tanak, both eliminated after rolling off the road on Friday at the same place in SS5, Kevin Abbring also failed to finish. Abbring retired on Friday in SS3 when he hit a rock and while he re-started on Saturday under Rally 2, he hit another rock in SS10.

The World Rally Championship now moves to Sardina next, with Rally Italia Sardegna taking place next month from June 9-12.

CLICK HERE for Rally de Portugal result

 

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