July 31, 2016 – Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke won Neste Rally Finland on Sunday afternoon with a record-breaking drive that set a new mark for the fastest FIA World Rally Championship round in history.
His 29.1sec victory over Jari-Matti Latvala shattered the Finn’s hopes of a third consecutive success on home ground and established a new speed record. Meeke’s 126.60kph average smashed Latvala’s performance on the same rally 12 months ago by 1.2kph.
Thirty-seven-year-old Meeke became the first British driver to win the Finnish classic and only the sixth non-Nordic victor in its 65-year history. He led for almost every kilometre of the four-day gravel encounter in a Citroën DS 3.
To seal a remarkable day for the Abu Dhabi Total team, which is tackling a part-time WRC programme this season, Ireland’s Craig Breen scored a maiden podium in third. He finished 1min 41.3sec behind Meeke, having claimed his first stage win this morning.
Latvala was demoralised by Meeke’s Ouninpohja performance and settled for second to climb to third in the championship. His only error came on the first day when he punctured a tyre after swiping a bank with his Volkswagen Polo R.
Thierry Neuville held off Hyundai i20 team-mate Hayden Paddon to take fourth by 2.3sec, both drivers unhappy with their car’s handling throughout the rally. Mads Østberg completed the top six in a Ford Fiesta RS.
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