Development & Alumni Relations Office 


13 March 2017

Northern Ireland World Rally Championship Citroën driver Kris Meeke (pictured right), had to negotiate a spectator car park less than 750 metres from the finishing line to win the 19th and final stage of Rally Guanajuato Mexico in Derramadero.  

Leading by 37.2 seconds heading into the last stage on 12 March, the County Tyrone man came off the track on a fast right-hand bend, went through a hedge and ended up in a car park! Disorientated, Kris and co-driver Paul Nagle (above left) needed to weave around several parked vehicles before Kris managed to get the C3 back on the road to limp across the line, with fan safety tape trailing from the car.

Meeke beat the Frenchman and defending World Champion Sebastien Ogier into second place to win by 13.8 seconds and to move up to sixth in the Championship. It was a crucial if unusual victory, following his disappointing performances in the opening two events of the season.

Born in 1979 in Dungannon the son of rally engineer Sydney Meeke, Kris was educated at the Royal School Dungannon before going on to study at Queen's, where he graduated in 2002 with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering.

Commenting after the extraordinary finish, Kris said: “I’m a lucky boy. A lucky, lucky boy. I got caught out by the bump and off we went. So I just tried to find the way out through the parked cars, and a gap in the hedge to get back on.”

Visibly shaken and somewhat bemused at the finish, Kris admitted that he had also punctured a tyre during the bizarre incident.

“A lot of things went my way. I was in the hands of God. I finally made my way between the cars but had punctured the front left tyre. When I crossed the line I didn't know whether I had won or not!

“It’s a hell of a way to end a rally, but we don’t need that,” he added.

The four times winner in the World Rally Championship had to be helped by co-driver Irishman Paul Nagle to climb onto the roof of their Citroen to start their celebrations.

Meeke’s previous wins, all with Nagle beside him, were in Argentina (2015), Portugal (2016) and Finland (2016).  

The WRC returns to Europe for round four next month when the Mediterranean island of Corsica will host the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse (6-9 April).

Click here to watch the WRC video of the ‘car park detour’ and to hear Kris’s reaction on winning Rally Mexico. And you can listen to Kris in conversation with Vassos Alexander on the BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans Breakfast Show, talking about his ordeal.   

Inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office at Queen’s; tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.

Photo credit: Citroën / DS UK Communications


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