Kris Meeke has taken his second World Rally Championship victory of 2017 at Rally RACC Catalunya while the title race took a pivotal twist as Thierry Neuville was forced to retire with damage as points leader Sebastien Ogier kept clear in second place.

After charging into the classification lead during the morning of day two, Meeke has produced a flawless performance to maintain a useful time cushion on M-Sport duo Ogier and Ott Tanak to clinch victory for Citroen.

It marks a triumphant end to a turbulent period for Meeke who was briefly dropped from the Citroen line-up at Rally Poland after a run of poor performances despite winning Rally Mexico this year. A dominant victory in Spain, eventually taken by 28 seconds ahead of Ogier, marks Meeke’s just third points finish in 2017 in 10 events to turnaround around a difficult year for the French manufacturer.

Ogier triumphed against team-mate Tanak for second place which sees the defending champion extend his advantage to 37 points at the top of the standings, with Tanak moving up to second thanks to his bonus points on the Power Stage, with two rounds remaining in 2017.

Both M-Sport drivers benefitted from Neuville’s cruel exit from the Spanish event after breaking his suspension on SS16 Santa Marina 1. Despite making it to the end of the stage the damage sustained forced the Hyundai driver to retire before the start of SS17 and leaves his title ambition in tatters.

Juho Hanninen led the Toyota Gazoo Racing charge in fourth place albeit over 20 seconds off of Tanak in third, while Mads Ostberg was promoted to fifth place for M-Sport after Neuville’s exit.

There was further final day heartache for Rally Finland winner Esapekka Lappi who crashed out on SS15 Riudecanyes 1 having looked set for a top six finish, which saw Citroen’s Stephane Lefebvre promoted to sixth place with Elfyn Evans (M-Sport) in seventh place.

Teemu Suninen clinched the WRC2 victory for Ford and finished eighth overall due to retirements ahead of him as Jan Kopecky (Skoda) and Ole Christian Veiby (Skoda) completing the top ten finishers.

Hyundai duo Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen bounced back from separate suspension breaks on Saturday with the Spanish driver delighting his home fans by winning the Power Stage and finishing 15th overall with his Norwegian team-mate ending the rally 18th.



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