The Citroen Abu Dhabi World Rally Team picked up their first win in two years thanks to Kris Meeke at Rally Argentina as Sheikh Khalid achieved his first top-six finish since September 2011.
Sebastien Loeb’s win in Monte Carlo in January 2013 was the last time an Abu Dhabi Citroen had tasted victory in the World Rally Championship (WRC), but Meeke led throughout the three days of action to finish 18 seconds ahead of his teammate Mads Ostberg when the event ended after 12 stages on Sunday.
It was Meeke’s first WRC win and the first by a Briton in the series in 13 years and he said: “It’ll take time for it to really sink in. I didn’t start the rally aiming to fight for the win. I just wanted to have an error-free rally.”
Sheikh Khalid, who was making his first appearance of the season in WRC with Citroen, after competing in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge earlier this month and the opening rounds of the Middle East Rally Championship, ran in the top 10 throughout the event, and finished sixth, earning eight WRC points. It is the 14th time he has scored points in the WRC in his career.
Sheikh Khalid said he had spent the rally getting to grips with the WRC specification of his car. “I had to focus on learning about the 2015-spec DS 3 WRC, which is new to me,” the Emirati said. “On my first appearance here, I drove at 50 per cent, sometimes at 75 per cent so I’m pleased with the result. I’m even more pleased about the performance of my teammates.”
Ostberg’s runner-up position moves him up to second in the drivers’ standings on 51 points, 33 behind defending champion Sebastien Ogier who was 17th in Argentina. Meeke moves up to fifth, 16 adrift of Ostberg, while Sheikh Khalid is 12th. The next round of the season is in Portugal, starting on May 21.