Kris Meeke on course for his first WRC win but crashes out of the lead on the final day Rookie Elfyn Evans takes fourth place plus his first career stage winBoth British drivers had a promising event at the ADAC Rallye Deutschland, the ninth round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) until Kris Meeke fell at the final hurdle on his first tarmac rally in three years. In a dramatic final morning when clear leader Jari-Matti Latvala crashed on the slippery tarmac with three stages to go, Meeke took over the lead only to crash himself handing victory to Belgian Thierry Neuville, the first win and 1-2 for Hyundai.Elfyn Evans finished a superb fourth position keeping his cool where more experienced drivers crashed out, the Welshman bringing home three extra points by taking the glory winning the power stage.Despite a spin on the first day on the slippery, muddy tarmac surfaces, Ulsterman Kris Meeke was consistently fast and only behind the two Volkswagen drivers, World Champion Sebastien Ogier and title contender Jari-Matti Latvala. Uncharacteristically Ogier made not one but two mistakes, the second crash forcing him to retire. Latvala inherited the lead but he too made a mistake, crashing out and Meeke was there to pick up the pieces in his Citroen DS3. On the final day Meeke suffered a puncture reducing the gap to the two Hyundai’s of Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo but the Irishman fought back to keep his lead and was on course to take his maiden WRC win. It wasn’t to be though and sadly Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle had made a mistake on their pace notes resulting in the duo hitting a wall in the slippery conditions ending their rally early after what had been a fantastic drive. In fourth, equalling his best WRC finish was rookie Welshman Elfyn Evans. Evans had been locked in an exciting battle with his more experienced M-Sport teammate Mikko Hirvonen throughout the rally running alongside the Mosel River, through the steep hillside vineyards and notoriously difficult Panzerplatte military zone. However it was the 25-year-old man from Wales and his co-driver Paul Nagle who won the battle of the M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC’s. Evans also took his first ever WRC stage win on the Power Stage, the final stage of the rally, earning him an extra three championship points.British drivers Meeke and Evans return to action in the Coates Hire Rally Australia 11 – 14 September. The WRC season culminates with the only British round, Wales Rally GB on 13 – 16 November 2014. Both drivers are looking forward to competing at their home event in less than twelve weeks. Tickets are on sale now at www.walesrallygb.com.A heartbroken Kris Meeke said: “To come here to my first proper tarmac rally in three years, to be honest I exceeded my own expectations of where I thought I would be. Ogier and Latvala were so quick, they were in a rally of their own but they both made mistakes and I was the best of the rest, there to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately then I made a mistake as well. I’ve had a lot of positives to take away, coming off the back of Finland where we were very strong as well and to come to a tarmac rally, we know we can be fast on every surface so we can take a lot of positives for the future but it’s still hard to take that lump from the throat at the moment.”Elfyn Evans commented: “It’s been a great weekend for us. To take our first stage win was really nice and the fourth place was something we would definitely have taken at the start of the rally. We weren’t too far away from Andreas [Mikkelsen, third place] at the end either, but it wasn’t our objective to push for the maximum result this weekend. It was more about learning the characteristics of the car on these stages and getting round safely, and I think we managed to do that.
“The whole weekend has been absolutely fantastic. The car has been so much fun to drive, even in the tricky conditions. We’ve been there or there abouts on the set-up and the tyre choice all weekend and the end result is a great one for the team. It always gives you a little boost when you manage to beat your team mate. Mikko [Hirvonen] didn’t make it easy and I’m sure he’ll be on the pace in Australia. But hopefully this won’t be the last time we give him a run for his money this year!”