Kris Meeke has become just the fourth British driver to win an event in the FIA World Rally Championship after emerging victorious from this weekend’s Rally Argentina.
The 36-year-old scored four podium finishes during his first full season in the WRC last year, but has now reached the top step in Argentina, finishing 18.1 seconds ahead of Citroen teammate Mads Ostberg in the final classification.
Meeke led the majority of the rally to follow in the footsteps of Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Roger Clark as a British winner in the WRC. It also marked the first victory for a British driver since McRae’s victory at Rally Kenya in 2002, ending a 13-year drought.
Fighting back tears on the podium, Meeke dedicated the win to McRae, who died in a helicopter crash eight years ago.
“What can I say?” Meeke said. “It’s been an exceptionally long road. This one’s for Colin.”
Norway’s Mads Ostberg completed a Cirtroen one-two, with Elfyn Evans making it a particularly good day for British drivers by finishing third for Ford.
World championship leader Sebastien Ogier saw his winning streak come to an end in Argentina, though, after a fuel supply problem left him down in 17th place in the final standings. He did, however, win the final power stage, meaning that his lead now stands at 33 points over Ostberg.
However, the rally was affected by an incident that saw Hyundai’s Haydon Paddon crash into a group of spectators, resulting in the cancellation of stage nine. As per Autosport, one spectator remains in intensive care at the time of writing.
The next WRC event takes place in Portugal in four weeks’ time.
James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.
The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.
Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.
“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.
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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.
“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”