Road crash ends Meeke's misery
It was the final ignominy for Kris Meeke, his Citroen rammed in the rear on the road section back to Monaco on Saturday night. The Monte Carlo Rally really was one to forget for the Dungannon driver.
On a weekend when World champion Sebastien Ogier ruled once again, only this time in a Ford Fiesta not a Volkswagen Polo, and Craig Breen emerged as the best of the Citroen drivers in fifth place in an older generation DS3, Meeke's rally went from bad to worse.
He had crashed out of second place on Friday morning, breaking the suspension of his new C3 and then, returning with heavy penalties under Rally 2 rules on Saturday, he lost a further 25 minutes when an ignition fault brought the car to a halt.
Finally came the traffic accident which prevented him and co-driver Paul Nagle from reaching the service area in Monte Carlo, ruling them out of yesterday's final leg.
Meeke held his hands up for the crash on Friday, admitting he had been too fast into an icy corner and paid the price. "It looked like snow on the road and with snow you have a bit of grip from the studded tyres," he said.
"But this was snow that had melted and then frozen again overnight. It was like glass and I was too fast for the corner. We slid wide, touched the bank and that spun us around and broke the right-rear suspension."
"After that it was just a question of gathering as much experience as we could with the new car but I was gutted that the road accident meant we could do the Col de Turini on the final leg which is one of the highlights of the season.
"But we move on to Sweden in a couple of weeks' time and hope for better luck and the chance to show when the C3 is capable of."
Ogier swept to his fourth Monte win in a row, securing the first victory in five years for the M-Sport Ford team, with Jari Matti Latvala taking second place on Toyota's return to the championship after nearly two decades away.
Ott Tanak, hampered by a misfiring engine on the final leg, dropped back to finish third, denying Ford a one-two result, but staying ahead of Hyundai's Dani Sordo.
Breen, who will switch to a C3 for Sweden, drove superbly to round out the top five in the less powerful DS3, finishing ahead of the Fiesta of Ulster Rally winner Elfyn Evans and Andreas Mikkelsen, the WRC division winner in a Skoda Fabia.
Meanwhile, Ronnie Trouton, one of the leading figures of Ulster motorsport for more than half a century, has been honoured by the Association of Northern Ireland Car Clubs at their annual awards presentation dinner in Armagh.
The former president and chairman of the ANICC was presented with the top Motorsport Award on a night when the 2016 Northern Ireland awards were handed out to an array of champions.