There was hardly a dry eye in the house this afternoon, as we watched Kris Meeke become the first Briton to win a round of the World Rally Championship since Colin McRae back in 2002. Victory on Rally Argentina was a major breakthrough for the Northern Irishman, who has had to wait until his mid-thirties to get a full-time WRC chance with Citroen Racing and the DS 3.
He had to wait through three of the toughest days of rallying seen in many a year, too, because this Rally Argentina brought back memories of the Safari - the very event that McRae won 13 years ago, in fact. Friday’s first full day of competition in effect accounted for champion Sebastien Ogier, his VW team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, plus the Hyundais of Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo. Only Meeke’s team-mate Mads Ostberg came through relatively unscathed - while Kris ended the day with more than a minute’s advantage.
The Meeke of old might have found the task of maintaining this advantage a daunting prospect - but after a frankly calamitous start to the season, he’d reset his approach prior to arriving in Argentina. So mentally, he just resigned himself to doing the job he’d always intended to do: finish. And the rest looked after itself. Latvala was still a possible threat but he went off the road briefly and rattled himself to the point where he settled for third (he didn’t even get that, thanks to a final-day engine glitch). Ostberg closed but never really looked like seriously threatening the leader.