Co-driver not to blame for costly error, insists Meeke
Kris Meeke refused to blame co-driver Paul Nagle for the error which cost them a near-certain podium finish on the Tour de Corse and insisted: "We win together, we lose together."
Meeke was locked in a battle for second place with Hyundai's Thierry Neuville when his Citroen flew off the road and ended buried in bushes on the final stage of the Saturday leg.
Co-driver Nagle was quick to hold his hands up, admitting he had called a wrong pacenote, sending them into the corner some 30mph too fast.
Dungannon driver Meeke explained: "This is a very intense rally with pages and pages of pacenotes for every stage and Paul got a bit mixed up at that point. He called a fast five left when it should have been a three, so I was all guns blazing into a tighter corner than expected.
"You can't change the laws of physics so we ended up a fair way off the road, down a bit of a hillside.
"It is the first time Paul has ever made a mistake like this. He's gutted, but we win together and we lose together so we put it behind us and move on."
They were able to rejoin for the final leg yesterday, eventually finishing ninth and taking bonus points for third place on the final power stage as World champion Sebastien Ogier won for the second round in a row, his Ford Fiesta clearly ahead of the Toyota Yaris of Ott Tanak and Neuville.
In the Junior WRC, a puncture robbed Callum Devine of a podium place after a stop to change the wheel on his R2 Fiesta dropped the young Derry driver to fifth.
Meanwhile, the Monaghan Moffetts in their R5 Ford Fiestas have taken an early stranglehold on the Irish Tarmac Championship following their second successive one-two finish in the series on the Easter Stages Rally.
Again it was younger brother Josh who took the victory, less than five seconds ahead of Sam, the reigning champion.
Marty McCormack, who had briefly moved in front when overnight leader Derek McGarrity was forced to retire his Subaru with clutch failure, finished in third place in his Skoda Fabia with the Fiestas of Robert Barrable, Jonny Greer and Daniel Cronin completing the top six.
It proved a frustrating day at Brands Hatch for Ulster drivers Colin Turkington, Chris Smiley and Daniel Harper despite it starting promisingly.
Turkington came within a whisker of winning the opening race of the British Touring Car Championship, finishing second behind the Honda of Jack Goff with Smiley 10th.
But on the warm-up lap of race two, Turkington's BMW suffered an electrical fault forcing him back to the pits, rejoining a lap down. The two-time champion could make little progress while Smiley's Honda dropped back to 17th.
Starting 27th in race three, Turkington stormed through the field to grab ninth place with Smiley climbing to 10th.
In the Porsche Carrera Cup, 17-year-old Harper looked on course for a podium on his debut when he slotted into third but a late puncture saw him finish 13th. In the second race he was up to seventh before a red flag.