After dominating much of Rally Mexico, Citroen’s Kris Meeke almost threw it all away on the final power stage, firing off the road less than one kilometre from the finish, narrowly missing parked cars, before rejoining and taking victory.
Meeke, who went into the final stage with a comfortable 37.2sec buffer, relived his big scare afterwards: "I'm a lucky boy. I got caught out on a bump," said the 37-year-old from Northern Ireland
What had been a comfortable lead over Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) going into the deciding stage was reduced to 13.8 secs at the finish.
Meeke’s fourth career victory elevated him to sixth in the FIA World Rally Championship standings after miserable results from the opening two rounds in Monte-Carlo and Sweden.
Meeke and co-drive Paul Nagle increased their overall lead with a strong Saturday performance, going to sleep with a half-minute advantage over Ogier after the Frenchman lost 10 secs when he looped his Ford Fiesta.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, who crashed out of the lead of the opening two WRC events this year, was a relieved third, nearly a minute off the lead. He and team-mate Hayden Paddon, who was fifth, both had troubles with tyres.
They were split by M-Sport’s Ott Tanak.
Jari-Matti Latvala, who led the world championship going into the Mexican round, finished sixth and conceded the rally had largely become an extended test for the Toyota team which experimented with engine settings and tyres.
In pursuit of his fifth consecutive world title, Ogier now leads the championship after three of the 13 rounds by eight points from Latvala.
A farcical glitz forced organisers to cancel two stages on Friday after World Rally Championship cars failed to arrive back in Leon after Thursday night's Mexico City stage.
The four-truck convoy was delayed behind a road crash in the early hours of the morning on the 400km journey back to the service park base.
That has led to the cancellation of what would have been Friday's first two stages.
For once, no one in Mexico blamed Donald Trump.
Bourdais last-to-first in IndyCar
Will Power hit by cruel luck in season opener at St Petersburg
Sebastien Bourdais completed a magical charge from last to first in in the 2017 IndyCar opener in St Petersburg, Florida, handing Honda an early success in what will be a season-long battle with rival engine Chevrolet.
The Frenchman crashed in qualifying, meaning he started 21st and rear of grid.
Clever strategy from Dale Coyne Racing, along with some opportune yellow flags, aided his progress through the field.
On lap 37 of 110, he out-braked Team Penske’s defending IndyCar champ Simon Pagenaud, and then controlled the race through to the chequer.
Pagenaud, who started 14th, was had some good fortune with the yellows, ultimately taking second ahead of Ganassi's Scott Dixon.
The race was a disaster for polesitter Will Power who after leading at the start incurred a pit penalty for driving over his air hose early in proceedings.
His race ended with fuel-feed issues which slowed him. He was then disqualified for driving too leisurely, officially classified 19th.
Earlier, the front row was an Australasian shutout, with Power securing his seventh pole in eight years at the circuit. He does have a handle on this track.
The Australian set a best time of 1m01.064s in the final, 'fast six' segment of qualifying to beat Ganassi's Honda-powered kiwi Dixon to pole.
Last year Power won the pole but was ruled out of the race with a medical condition. This year, he did at least make the start, if not the finish.
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