Belfast Telegraph

It was tough, says Meeke after helping keep Toyota in title mix

 

Turkey trouble: Kris Meeke and Toyota were off the pace
Turkey trouble: Kris Meeke and Toyota were off the pace

By Sammy Hamill

It was a damage limitation exercise for Kris Meeke and his Toyota team on the final day of Rally Turkey.

All he and team-mate Jari Matti Latvala could do was concentrate on getting across the finish line in Marmaris yesterday at the end of a rough, rocky rally in which they were never in the hunt and, ironically, Meeke's old Citroen team totally dominated.

World champion Sebastien Ogier and former Circuit of Ireland winner Esapekka Lappi finished first and second with Hyundai's Andreas Mikkelsen over a minute behind the winner.

Latvala was back in sixth place and Meeke seventh on a weekend when Tommi Makinen's Toyota team, winners of the last two rounds of the WRC series, struggled to cope with the rock-strewn rocks in hot, dusty conditions.

Even World Championship leader Ott Tanak was off the pace before he was forced to retire when his Yaris suffered electronic failure.

The Estonian returned for the final part and repaired some of the damage to his title hopes with the fastest time and maximum bonus points in the final power stage.

"It was a tough weekend for the whole Toyota team in general. We struggled for a bit of speed in the Yaris, so it really was damage limitation mode to keep the points loss to Hyundai as low as we could," said Meeke.

Tanak remains top of the drivers' standings but Ogier has moved to second ahead of Hyundai's Thierry Neuville, who finished eighth.

Hyundai increased their manufacturers' lead slightly thanks to Mikkelsen's third place and Dani Sordo's fifth.

Meanwhile, Jonny Greer collected his best finish of this year's British Championship with second place in the final round, the Galloway Hills Rally in Scotland.

The Carryduff driver in his R5 Ford Fiesta was 50 seconds behind the Hyundai of start-to-finish winner Tom Cave, who won for the third time this season but couldn't prevent his fellow Welshman Matt Edwards retaining the British title.

Edwards went into the showdown only needing a seventh-place finish or better to become the first double champion since Ireland's Keith Cronin in 2009-2010 and he concentrated on staying out of trouble, eventually bringing his Fiesta home almost half a minute behind Greer.

Armagh's James Wilson, Ireland's 2018 Young Driver of the Year, finished fourth as he stepped up to the R5 category in another of his Motorsport Ireland-supported drives in a Hyundai. And right behind at the finish was fellow Ulsterman William Creighton, who finally got a Junior Championship win in his R2 Peugeot, fighting back from an early puncture to snatch fifth place from Marty Gallagher on the final stage.

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