Kris Meeke left to rue bad mistake
Kris Meeke will return home to Dungannon to reflect on what might have been after finishing 10th on the Monte Carlo Rally.
It should have been top three but one error cost him dear, robbing him of the opportunity of fighting for a podium position with the Volkswagen duo of Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala.
But Meeke can take heart from a strong finish which saw him regain 11 places and set three fastest times, including taking maximum points on the final Power Stage where he edged out Monte master and Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb.
Both of them, however, will look back on stage eight, Les Costes, on Friday evening where their challenge fell apart.
Meeke's Citroen DS3 skated wide on a patch of icy mud and as he corrected the slide it dropped the tail into a ditch and smashed against a small tree, breaking a wheel and damaging the rear suspension. The outcome was a 10-minute penalty and a drop from fourth to 21st.
Astonishingly, minutes later, Loeb, who had led the rally through the first six stages, made a similar error and the outcome was identical, broken suspension and a 10 minute penalty.
With Meeke and Loeb left to fight for scraps, Volkswagen took control with World champion Ogier winning for a third time from Latvala by 58 seconds and Andreas Mikkelsen making it a cleansweep of the podium places.
Mads Ostberg was best of the rest, his Citroen finishing ahead of the Hyundais of Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo.
In the WRC2 division, Craig Breen recovered from problems on the first two days to finish second (13th) overall for Peugeot, the win going to Citroen's rising star Stephane Lefebrve.
Meeke, meanwhile, will turn his attention to Rally Sweden next month, knowing he has to cut out the costly mistakes. At one point yesterday he was 10 minutes and two seconds behind winner Ogier - after incurring the 10 minute penalty. Costly indeed.