First British WRC winner since Colin McRae in 2002
Welshman Elyfn Evans claims maiden podium finish
Kris Meeke yesterday became the first British driver to win a round of the FIA World Rally Championship for more than a decade. The 35-year-old from Northern Ireland made his big breakthrough in Argentina with an historic victory on round four of this year’s WRC. He is the first British winner since Colin McRae’s final victory back on the 2002 Safari Rally.
The Dungannon man, co-driven by Irishman Paul Nagle, led from virtually the start and after four days of intense and gruelling competition, he finished 18.1 seconds ahead of his Citroën team-mate Mads Østberg.
Adding further to British delight, Elfyn Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt finished third in their M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS. It was the promising young Welshman’s first-ever WRC podium and delivered the first double podium for British drivers since New Zealand in 2001.
Victory also means Meeke becomes just the fourth British driver to win a WRC round – he joins rally legends Roger Clark, McRae and Richard Burns in a very elite club. Clark, McRae and Burns also all savoured success in their home event – a feat the Ulsterman now will be aiming to emulate when the WRC comes to these shores for Wales Rally GB (12-15 November).
“What can I say? It’s been a long road… and the man who did most is not here,” said an emotional Meeke dedicating his landmark success to the late McRae who was the Northern Irishman’s mentor earlier in his career.
Confidence-boosting performances from both Meeke and Evans is another major boost to the sport in this country and will generate even more interest in the UK’s concluding round of this year’s WRC.
“This is a great day for British rallying and we send our congratulations to both camps,” confirmed Ben Taylor, managing director of Wales Rally GB. "The whole sport has been excited to have two drivers in the WRC again and now to see Kris on the top step and Elfyn alongside him reinforces that UK rallying is moving in the right direction.
I'm sure they will both have the podium in their sights when the WRC comes to Wales in November which is an incredibly exciting prospect for everyone connected with our event.”
Home fans don't have long to wait for full details of the competitive route for 2015 Wales Rally GB, which will be revealed in the coming weeks, together with news of a revised ticketing policy.