Meeke's Victorious Return to WRC

Kris Meeke scored a solid victory for the Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen team by a margin of 29.7 seconds on the Rally of Portugal when he returned to compete in one of the few rounds selected for the Northern Irishman's limited 2016 World Rally Championship campaign.

Meeke led the way from Friday morning's second stage to the finish and is the first Briton to win in Portugal since Richard Burn's win in 2000. Meeke took full advantage of the running order on Friday, benefiting from others sweeping the road for him and consolidated his lead on Sunday's stages to secure his win ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, who overcame current world champion Sebastien Ogier for second despite the Frenchman having been Meeke's main rival for most of the weekend.

However, Ogier was never a serious challenger for victory and battled with Volkswagen team-mate Mikkelsen and Hyundai's Dani Sordo for second throughout. Sordo was unable to show the same level of pace and fell away from the battle to take fourth behind Ogier at rally's end. Eric Camilli was fifth, with Rally Portugal's attrition aiding his success and Camilli's M-Sport team-mate Mads Ostberg fell away from the top five after damaging his car and running in front wheel drive for most of Saturday.

Jari-Matti Latvala recovered into sixth overall ahead of Ostberg, but the Finn had to bounce back from broken power steering earlier in the rally but the most dramatic retirement befell Rally Argentina winner Hayden Paddon who rolled on SS5, before his i20 WRC caught fire spectacularly and burnt out within five minutes. Both Paddon and co-driver Jonathan Kennard escaped without injury.

Team-mate Thierry Neuville got on the pace after a sluggish start, only to run out of fuel on Saturday's morning loop. Meeke's team-mate Stephane Lefebvre was on course for the top six before retiring when he hit a rock. Martin Prokop finished eighth, ahead of WRC2 winner Pontus Tidemand who won by an impressive margin of 1m28.8s, recovering from a puncture on Saturday afternoon that briefly allowed Nicholas Fuchs the class lead.

Final Results after SS19:

Pos ... Driver ... Team ... Car ... Gap
1. Kris Meeke/P.Nagle Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen 3h59m01.0s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen/A.J.Synnevaag Volkswagen Polo 29.7s
3. Sebastien Ogier/J.Ingrassia Volkswagen Polo 34.5s
4. Dani Sordo/M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1m37.1s
5. Eric Camilli/B.Veillas M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 4m01.6s
6. Jari-Matti Latvala/M.Anttila Volkswagen Polo4m06.9s
7. Mads Ostberg/O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 6m53.6s
8. Martin Prokop/J.Tomanek Jipocar Czech Team Ford 10m24.1s
9. Pontus Tidemand/J.Andersson Skoda Motorsport Skoda 11m45.2s
10. Nicolas Fuchs/F.Mussano Skoda 13m14.0s

23rd May, 2016