Belfast Telegraph

Meeke avoids trouble to end first leg in third

By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke was up to third place at the end of the opening leg of Rally Argentina.

On a day of drama, which for once did not involve the Dungannon driver, the Volkswagens of Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier were in first and second places ahead of Meeke's Citroen.

After a string of accidents on the previous three rounds of the World championship, Meeke had vowed to stay out of trouble and his strategy paid off.

Instead, it was his team-mate Mads Ostberg's turn to make a mistake, the Norwegian tearing a wheel off his car on the first stage of the day.

He was quickly followed by Mikko Hirvonen who crashed his Ford and Dani Sordo lost several minutes when a turbo pipe came loose on his Hyundai.

It left Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle in fifth place at the midday service, but the final stage of the day, a massive 32 miles test, saw them gain two places when the Hyundai of Thierry Neuville stopped with engine problems and then Andreas Mikkelsen retired his Volkswagen.

"I'm happy," smiled Meeke as he headed back to the overnight halt. "We had a strategy and we stuck to it – except for the final 10 kilometres of the last stage.

"When we passed Mikkelsen's car stopped at the side of the stage I backed off and virtually freewheeled to the finish."

Latvala snatched the lead on the last long stage, beating World champion Ogier by 18 seconds to move the front with a 17 seconds advantage.

Meeke was a further 49 seconds behind.

Young Welshman Elfyn Evans was fourth but nearly three minutes behind Meeke with Ford team-mate Robert Kubica fifth.

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