Belfast Telegraph

Chile Rally roll proves costly for upset Meeke


Kris Meeke
Kris Meeke

By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke's frown said it all. Rally Chile had not gone to plan and he wasn't happy. "A bad weekend," he admitted as he brought his Toyota Yaris to the finish in eighth place some seven minutes behind his winning team-mate Ott Tanak.

The World Championship's first visit to Chile and started well enough for the Dungannon driver and finished OK but the bit in between wasn't so good.

He had shared the lead with the other member of the Toyota team, Jari Matti Latvala, after the first stage on Friday but gradually slipped back as he struggled to master the slippery conditions and said he lacked confidence in his pacenotes.

Still he was in fifth place going into the Saturday leg but was immediately in trouble, rolling the Toyota onto its roof on the opening stage of the day.

"My notes weren't correct for a long lefthander and I ran wide and touched a bank. It was a slow speed incident but we finished on our roof, so we lost a lot of time getting back on four wheels," explained Meeke.

The incident cost more than six minutes and although Meeke fought back strongly in a car that the Toyota team virtually rebuilt in a 40-minute service, he could never make the lost ground.

There were no such problems for Tanak, the young Estonian taking over at the front early on Friday and keeping the chasing pack, led by the Citroen of World champion Sebastien Ogier, at bay to win by 23 seconds.

He even capped it with fastest time on the final Power Stage to claim five bonus points.

With Hyundai's Thierry Neuville, winner of the previous two rounds, crashing heavily on Saturday, Tanak moves up to second in the WRC standings behind new leader Ogier who held off a resurgent Sebastien Loeb on yesterday's final leg.

The nine times World champion was just a handful of seconds behind, claiming his first podium finish for Hyundai.

The Ford's of Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen finished fourth and fifth ahead of Citroen's Esapekka Lappi and the Hyundai of Andreas Mikkelsen. Latvala lost out when he hit a rock, damaging the suspension, on the final Saturday stage.

Meanwhile, Wayne Boyd collected another podium finish in the European Le Mans championship, finishing third in the LMP3 category in round two of the series at Monza in Italy.

Teamed with American Garret Grist and Brazilian Tommy Erdos in the United Autosports team's Ligier prototype, Boyd drove the middle stint of the six-hour race at the Italian Grand Prix circuit, taking over from Grist in fifth place and climbing to second before Erdos brought the car in third.

But there was little joy for the Ulster drivers in the Blancpain European GT3 Endurance championship round at Silverstone - indeed, Andrew Watson never even made it into the race.

His Garage 59 Aston Martin was eliminated in the opening lap when Frenchman Come Ledogar was caught up in a multi-car accident on the Hanger Straight on the first lap.

Steven Kane finished 12th for Bentley with Charlie Eastwood 24th and third in the pro/am class for Aston Martin.

Belfast Telegraph


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