Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle took theirs and Citroen’s first win in the 2017 World Rally Championship in its third round – rally Mexico. But that happened in such a bizarre way that neither the crew, nor the team could quite believe it when it was all over.
The team was following the last stage of the race (which was also the power stage) on live television. 750 meters from the finish Meeke made a mistake and ran wide on a long right-hand corner! The car went through the hedge at the side of the road, shaking violently and into a spectator car park!! The Citroen team uttered a desperate cry, people holding their heads while watching helplessly how the Northern Irishman was trying to get back to the road. Even his rivals could scarcely believe their eyes.
Seconds later Kris was back on the way to victory and unnaturally needed some time to regain his voice and composure. After that his reaction both on Twitter and Instagram was self-explanatory.
— krismeeke.com (@krismeeke) 12 March 2017
“I think I might end up telling this story hundreds of times… I’m annoyed with myself for making that mistake”, Kris Meeke admitted
“I got caught out on a bump after the jump at a fast right corner. I’m a lucky boy. That’s certainly one way to finish a rally and I didn’t need that. I was desperately trying to trying to find my way out of the parked cars and find a gap in the hedge. A lot of things went my way.”
“I quickly looked to get back on the road because I knew we could still win. That’s the main thing: we showed the potential of the C3 WRC in securing the car’s first win. I’m proud and delighted for the entire team, this result is for them.”
Citroen Racing’s principal Yves Matton commented that “what happened in the Power Stage is almost beyond belief, even if this kind of thing has occurred before”
“At the time, there was some confusion as to what had happened; the onboard footage made it look like there had been a major off whereas the tracking system indicated that the car was still moving”, he continued. “When the car crossed the finishing line, we were absolutely thrilled and all the tension and drama just slipped away! This first win on gravel shows that the C3 WRC has some very solid foundations and that the Citroen Racing team did a good job during its development. We’ll now be able to work in a slightly more relaxed manner as we look to keep improving.”
Meanwhile Stephane Lefevbre did not have such luck
He finished 15th in the rally but the main point was that managed to pick up a lot of experience.
“Even during the last day, being eleventh on the road meant I had the same grip as the leaders and I was able to get a feel for what the car can do in these conditions. Well done to Kris, Paul and the whole team; this win is a special moment for Citroen Racing”, Stephane said.